Editor’s Note: Like most pest control industry events in 2020, the The Global Bed Bug Summit 2020 was moved to a virtual event and took place last week. UK-based freelance journalist Frances McKim submitted the following report for PCT.
FAIRFAX, VA. – Organized by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and main sponsor BedBug CentralThe Global Bed Bug Summit 2020 offered an educational mix of live presentations, recorded lectures on demand, networking sessions, roundtables and a virtual reception on bugs, beer and bad decisions. To support this, EXPO Central showed the goods and services that were being offered for this particular market. There were a total of 280 attendees, roughly half of the attendees, who regularly attended this event when held face-to-face.
Dominique Stumpf, CEO of NPMA, welcomed the delegates. She then handed the microphone over to Robert DiJoseph, President of BedBug Central, who explained how this event started in 2010 and ran as the BedBug University: North American Summit for two years before joining NPMA and making the event the Global BedBug Summit has been . He said, “NPMA has added its signature polish to the event, but this is the first time it has been held virtually.” DiJoseph announced that the company will expand beyond bed bugs and that a new company name will be announced in January 2021.
The technical presentations were given by Dr. Chow-Yang Lee from the University of California at Riverside. He spoke about the rise and development of resistance in bed bugs and how the variety of insecticides available can be used for maximum effect. He identified insecticide resistance as the main cause of the global resurgence of this pest.
What followed was a much more hands-on presentation from Joey Hoke, American Pest Management, Manhattan, Kan., And Jen Fox, Terminix International, Temecula, Calif., Who delivered a brisk one-two punch. They said finding the right person for a bed bug technician is key, one who is “intelligent and willing to think outside the box”.
Fox warned of the dangers of customers searching for bed bugs on Google, which is not always correct. This requires that customer expectations be professionally and consistently managed throughout their experience with the company. Hoke pleaded with anyone who wasn’t sure what to do to seek advice from him or other experts.
Dr. Karen Vail of the University of Tennessee discussed her work in apartment buildings, where infestation can become extremely severe. She emphasized the importance of identifying infestations early on and not relying on infestation reports from residents or property managers. Their work looked at the number and types of monitors required to detect an infestation, but unfortunately reported that, while property managers were willing to spend budgets on ineffective treatments, they weren’t willing to pay much for monitors. “
Practical problems from COVID-19
The issues caused by the COVID-19 situation were discussed in a three-way presentation by Darren Van Steenwyk of Clark Pest Control, Lodi, California (who was accompanied by his dog), Mike Panichi of Platinum Pest Solutions, Lansing. Ill. And Galvin Murphy of Yankee Pest Control, Malden, Mass., The delegates could hear but unfortunately not see due to the failure of his camera (the dangers of virtual events!).
All three professionals reported a decrease in bed bug treatments by up to a third. However, COVID-19 had raised its own specific problems. First and foremost, the safety of their own employees was important, and understandably homeowners were reluctant to welcome technicians into their homes. Van Steenwyk explained how fumigation was their main treatment method, but this also caused problems as homeowners had to vacate their property for a few days but, in the current situation, had no place to move.
Heat and the use of dogs were Murphy’s main line of attack, but Panichi said he has seen treatments canceled due to the use of dogs. This was countered by Murphy, who had also experienced this, but after explaining to customers that using scent detection dogs was not only faster, but also fewer objects were hand-touched, so not only faster, but also safer.
The networking and beer event turned out to be very sociable and popular and again highlighted the need for social contacts.
In addition to the main sponsor BedBug Central, this year’s Global Bed Bug Summit was sponsored by Allergy Technologies, MGK and Conidiotec.