Bed Bug Control: IPM Programs


Gordon, J.R. 2020. Urban Entomology Highlights From 2019 Help Create Integrated Pest Management Plans. Journal of Medical Entomology. 57(5): 1342-1348.

“Urban insect pests such as ants, termites, cockroaches, and bed bugs are more than just nuisances; they often negatively impact structures, landscapes, animal health, commercial food production, food safety, and public health (mental, physical, and financial). Due to the tremendous burden these insects can inflict, researchers, manufacturers, and pest management professionals work to create solutions that effectively manage urban and structural pests. One solution that has proven useful in agriculture is the development of an integrated pest management (IPM) plan; i.e., a science-based approach to pest control that utilizes multiple tactics such as preventative tools, chemical control (sprays, fumigation, and baits), biological control, and exclusion. There are many permutations of urban IPM plans, but in general they consist of five components: 1) identifying the pest, 2) monitoring the pest, 3) developing an intervention plan (including prevention and control techniques), 4) implementing the program, and 5) recording and evaluating the results. The objectives of the current publication were to 1) highlight urban entomology research published in 2019 and 2) show how the results from these publications help pest management professionals create and implement IPM plans.”


Xie, S., A.L. Hill, C.R. Rehmann, and M.Z. Levy. 2019. Dynamics of bed bug infestations and control under disclosure policies. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 116(13) 6473-6481: doi: 10.1073/pnas.1814647116

“Bed bugs have reemerged in the United States and worldwide over recent decades, presenting a major challenge to both public health practitioners and housing authorities. A number of municipalities have proposed or initiated policies to stem the bed bug epidemic, but little guidance is available to evaluate them. One contentious policy is disclosure, whereby landlords are obligated to notify potential tenants of current or prior bed bug infestations.  Aimed to protect tenants from leasing an infested rental unit, disclosure also creates a kind of quarantine, partially and temporarily removing infested units from the market. Here, we develop a mathematical model for the spread of bed bugs in a generalized rental market, calibrate it to parameters of bed bug dispersion and housing turnover, and use it to evaluate the costs and benefits of disclosure policies to landlords. We find disclosure to be an effective control policy to curb infestation prevalence. Over the short term (within 5 years), disclosure policies result in modest increases in cost to landlords, while over the long term, reductions of infestation prevalence lead, on average, to savings. These results are insensitive to different assumptions regarding the prevalence of infestation, rate of introduction of bed bugs from other municipalities, and the strength of the quarantine effect created by disclosure. Beyond its application to bed bugs, our model offers a framework to evaluate policies to curtail the spread of household pests and is appropriate for systems in which spillover effects result in highly nonlinear cost–benefit relationships.”


Zha, C., C. Wang, B. Buckley, I. Yang, D. Wang, A. L. Eiden, and R. Cooper2018. Pest prevalence and evaluation of community-wide integrated pest management for reducing cockroach infestations and indoor insecticide residues. Journal of Economic Entomology. 111(2): 795-802. doi: 10.1093/jee/tox356

“Pest infestations in residential buildings are common, but community-wide pest survey data are lacking. Frequent insecticide applications for controlling indoor pests leave insecticide residues and pose potential health risks to residents. In this study, a community-wide pest survey was carried out in a housing complex consisting of 258 units in 40 buildings in New Brunswick, New Jersey. It was immediately followed by implementation of an integrated pest management (IPM) program in all the cockroach-infested apartments and two bed bug apartments with the goal of eliminating pest infestations, reducing pyrethroid residues, and increasing resident satisfaction with pest control services. The IPM-treated apartments were revisited and treated biweekly or monthly for 7 mo. Initial inspection found the top three pests and their infestation rates to be as follows: German cockroaches (Blattella germanica L. [Blattodea: Blattellidae]), 28%; rodents, 11%; and bed bugs (Cimex lectularius L. [Hemiptera: Cimicidae]), 8%. Floor wipe samples were collected in the kitchens and bedrooms of 20 apartments for pyrethroid residue analysis before the IPM implementation; 17 of the 20 apartments were resampled again at 7 mo. The IPM program reduced cockroach counts per apartment by 88% at 7 wk after initial treatment. At 7 mo, 85% of the cockroach infestations found in the initial survey were eliminated. The average number of pyrethroids detected decreased significantly from 6 +/- 1 (mean +/- SEM) and 5 +/- 1 to 2 +/- 1 and 3 +/- 1 in the kitchens and bedrooms, respectively. The average concentrations of targeted pyrethroids residue also decreased significantly in the kitchens and bedrooms.”

Singh, N., C. Wang, C. Zha, R. Cooper, and M. Robson2017. Testing a threshold-based bed bug management approach in apartment buildings. Insects. 8(3): 76. doi: 10.3390/insects8030076

“We tested a threshold-based bed bug (Cimex lectularius L.) management approach with the goal of achieving elimination with minimal or no insecticide application. Thirty-two bed bug infested apartments were identified. These apartments were divided into four treatment groups based on apartment size and initial bed bug count, obtained through a combination of visual inspection and bed bug monitors: I- Non-chemical only in apartments with 1–12 bed bug count, II- Chemical control only in apartments with 1–12 bed bug count, III- Non-chemical and chemical control in apartments with >12 bed bug count, and IV- Chemical control only in apartments with ≥11 bed bug count. All apartments were monitored or treated once every two weeks for a maximum of 28 wk. Treatment I eliminated bed bugs in a similar amount of time to treatment II. Time to eliminate bed bugs was similar between treatment III and IV but required significantly less insecticide spray in treatment III than that in treatment IV. A threshold-based management approach (non-chemical only or non-chemical and chemical) can eliminate bed bugs in a similar amount of time, using little to no pesticide compared to a chemical only approach.”

Wang, C., A. Eiden, N. Singh, C. Zha, D. Wang, and R. Cooper2017. Dynamics of bed bug infestations in three low-income housing communities with various bed bug management programs. Pest Management Science. 74(6): 1302–1310. doi: 10.1002/ps.4830

“BACKGROUND: Infestations of the common bed bug, Cimex lectularius L., have become common in low-income communities in the USA over the last 15 years. We evaluated community-based integrated pest management (IPM) programs for reducing bed bug infestations. Two housing authorities (Bayonne and Hackensack) implemented bed bug IPM programs. A third housing authority (Paterson) was used as the control site. Building-wide surveys were conducted in all communities, three times, to evaluate the effectiveness of the IPM programs. RESULTS: From 0 to 24 months, the infestation rate at Bayonne, Hackensack, and Paterson decreased by 49, 64, and 26%, respectively. The two sites that adopted IPM achieved faster bed bug elimination than the control site. The bed bug introduction rate over a 24-month period at Bayonne, Hackensack, and Paterson was 7, 3, and 11%, respectively. The introduction rate was positively associated with the initial infestation rate. Residents from buildings enrolled in IPM programs were more satisfied with the bed bug control services than residents from the control site. CONCLUSION: IPM programs were more effective in reducing bed bug infestations than traditional pest control services, but many factors contributed to the lower than desired level of reduction in infestation rate.”


Bennett, G. W., A. D. Gondhalekar, C. Wang, G. Buczkowski, and T. J. Gibb2015. Using research and education to implement practical bed bug control programs in multifamily housing. Pest Management Science. 72(1): 8–14. doi: 10.1002/ps.4084

“Multifamily housing facilities serving low-income populations have been at the forefront of bed bug outbreaks. Research conducted in the past 8 years has consistently proven that integrated pest management (IPM) is the best approach for successful suppression of bed bug infestations. Bed bug IPM in multifamily settings is especially dependent upon a collaborative community or building-wide effort involving residents, building staff and pest control technicians. Other components of a bed bug IPM program include regular monitoring to detect early-stage bed bug infestations and combined use of non-chemical and chemical interventions. Lastly, to reduce reinfestation rates and costs associated with bed bug control, it is critical to continue periodic monitoring and implement preventive control measures even after successful elimination of bed bugs has been achieved.”

Cooper, R. A., C. Wang, and N. Singh. 2015. Evaluation of a model community-wide bed bug management program in affordable housing. Pest Management Science. 72(1): 45–56. doi: 10.1002/ps.3982

“Low-income apartment communities in the United States are suffering from disproportionally high bed bug, Cimex lectularius L., infestations owing to lack of effective monitoring and treatment. Studies examining the effectiveness of integrated pest management (IPM) for the control of bed bugs in affordable housing have been limited to small subsets of bed-bug-infested apartments, rather than at the apartment community level. We developed, implemented and evaluated a complex-wide IPM program for bed bugs in an affordable housing community. Proactive inspections and biweekly treatments using a combination of non-chemical and chemical methods until bed bugs were not detected for three biweekly monitoring visits were key elements of the IPM program. A total of 55 bed-bug-infested apartments were identified during the initial inspection. Property management was unaware of 71% of these infestations. Over the next 12 months, 14 additional infested apartments were identified. The IPM program resulted in a 98% reduction in bed bug counts among treated apartments and reduced infestation rates from 15 to 2.2% after 12 months. Adopting a complex-wide bed bug IPM program, incorporating proactive monitoring, and biweekly treatments of infested apartments utilizing non-chemical and chemical methods can successfully reduce infestation rates to very low levels.”


Wang, C., K. Saltzmann, G. Bennett and T. Gibb. 2012. Comparison of three bed bug management strategies in a low-income apartment building. Insects. 3(2):402-409. doi: 10.3390/insects3020402

“Bed bug (Cimex lectularius L.) infestations are currently controlled by a variety of non-chemical and chemical methods. There have been few studies on the comparative effectiveness of these control techniques. We evaluated three bed bug management strategies in an apartment building: (1) non-chemical methods only (n = 9); (2) insecticides only (n = 6); and (3) integrated pest management including both non-chemical methods and insecticides (n = 9). The apartments were one-bedroom units occupied by seniors or people with disabilities. Bed bug numbers in each apartment were determined by visual inspection and/or installing intercepting devices under bed and sofa legs. The median (min, max) bed bug counts in the non-chemical methods only, insecticides only, and integrated pest management (IPM) treatment were: 4 (1, 57), 19 (1, 250), and 14 (1, 219), respectively prior to the treatments. The apartments were retreated if found necessary during biweekly to monthly inspections. After 10 weeks, bed bugs were found to be eliminated from 67, 33, and 44% of the apartments in the three treatment groups, respectively. The final (after 10 weeks) median (min, max) bed bug counts in the non-chemical methods only, insecticides only, and IPM treatment were: 0 (0, 134), 11.5 (0, 58), and 1 (0, 38), respectively. There were no significant differences in the speed of bed bug count reduction or the final bed bug counts. Lack of resident cooperation partially contributed to the failure in eliminating bed bugs from some of the apartments. Results of this study suggest that non-chemical methods can effectively eliminate bed bugs in lightly infested apartments.”


Ballard, J., P. Alley, D. Reeder, and J. Latino2011. Controlling bed bugs in transient housing facilities. Pest Control Technology. 39: 82–87.

An integrated pest management demonstration project was conducted in transient housing facilities using multiple approaches including insecticide applications, visual and canine inspections, clutter reduction, and either mattress encasements or ActiveGuard Mattress Liners. The approach provided for successful bed bug control, but likely would not be feasible for housing authorities due to the high cost.


Wang, C., T. Gibb, and G. W. Bennett. 2009. Evaluation of two least toxic integrated pest management programs for managing bed bugs (Heteroptera: Cimicidae) with discussion of a bed bug intercepting device. Journal of Medical Entomology 46(3): 566-571. doi: 10.1603/033.046.0322

“The cost and effectiveness of two bed bug (Cimex lectularius L.) integrated pest management (IPM) programs were evaluated for 10 wk. Sixteen bed bug-infested apartments were chosen from a high-rise low-income apartment building. The apartments were randomly divided into two treatment groups: diatomaceous earth dust-based IPM (D-IPM) and chlorfenapyr spray-based IPM (S-IPM). The initial median (minimum, maximum) bed bug counts (by visual inspection) of the two treatment groups were 73.5 (10, 352) and 77 (18, 3025), respectively. A seminar and an educational brochure were delivered to residents and staff. It was followed by installing encasements on mattresses and box springs and applying hot steam to bed bug-infested areas in all 16 apartments. Diatomaceous earth dust (Mother Earth-D) was applied in the D-IPM group 2 d after steaming. In addition, bed bug-intercepting devices were installed under legs of infested beds or sofas or chairs to intercept bed bugs. The S-IPM group only received 0.5% chlorfenapyr spray (Phantom) after the nonchemical treatments. All apartments were monitored bi-weekly and retreated when necessary. After 10 wk, bed bugs were eradicated from 50% of the apartments in each group. Bed bug count reduction (mean ± SEM) was 97.6 ± 1.6 and 89.7 ± 7.3% in the D-IPM and S-IPM groups, respectively. Mean treatment costs in the 10-wk period were $463 and $482 per apartment in the D-IPM and S-IPM groups, respectively. Bed bug interceptors trapped an average of 219 ± 135 bed bugs per apartment in 10 wk. The interceptors contributed to the IPM program efficacy and were much more effective than visual inspections in estimating bed bug numbers and determining the existence of bed bug infestations.”