Integrated Pest Management--A Simple Solution to Problem Pests in Elderly and Disabled Public Housing

Presenters: Dawn H. Gouge, Ph.D., Shujuan (Lucy) Li, Ph.D., Shakunthala (Shaku) Nair, Ph.D.  - Arizona Pest Management Center, University of Arizona–MAC, Maricopa

Date of live broadcast: November 14th 2018

In this webinar training you'll hear Drs. Gouge, Li, and Nair describe efforts to implement an IPM program in subsidized multiunit properties that house low-income elderly and persons with disabilities. Results over 2.8 years, across 5 buildings, showed significant reduction of German cockroaches and bed bugs. Averaging reductions across all sites there was an 87% reduction in units with German cockroaches and an 93% reduction in units with bed bugs. Learn how the team accomplished this with available pest management tools, regular inspections and monitoring and adopting strategies appropriate for residents and staff. These tools can be applied to your housing site to achieve similar success. Managing pests is not out of reach in elderly and disabled housing. Pest management and housing professionals can tune in to find out how to duplicate this successful approach in their own buildings and developments.

Download a copy of the presentation slides: IPM Solutions to Common Problems

Download a certificate of completion after viewing: Certificate of Completion


Selected Resources on Bed Bugs: 

Bed Bug information with lots of images

Bed bug information card

Assessment of bed bug impacts and practical methods of controlling bed bugs at home poster

Other Resources:

Clutter Image rating Scale

Public Health IPM Website (information on bed bugs, head lice, mosquitoes, bees, pesticide safety and home IPM newsletters

Monthly School and Home IPM Newsletter that covers all public health concerns:


Housing & Public Health Pest Management Shujuan (Lucy) Li:

School IPM Shaku Nair:

Public Health Pests Dawn H. Gouge:


Questions and Answers from the live webinar

If you have any remaining questions send a message to

What was your standard for infestation? How do you define infestation?

Our action threshold was one. The reason for that was because one female bed bug or one female cockroach is capable of setting up an infestation.

StopPests Note: an infestation is defined as a breeding population but an action threshold is one for many indoor pests including bed bugs, cockroaches, and rodents.

Is it true that self-treating counteracts pest control chemicals?

It certainly can, particularly when you are trying to manage cockroaches and baits are placed. Even cleaning agents that contaminate those baits can make baits less palatable for the cockroaches. Also, baits have a domino effect, when you kill a cockroach, the other cockroaches consume the dead cockroach and they then die. So, you would want to get most out of those baits for the secondary and tertiary poisoning of cockroaches that feed on the dead bodies and droppings. Spraying will an over-the-counter product will repel the cockroaches from the baits making the baits less effective and the cockroaches harder to reach. Therefore, one should be careful where products are placed and that they are not interfering with each other.

What are the essential parts of preparation for bed bugs treatment?

No prior preparations were requested from the residents. The cleaning– vacuuming and laundry– differed for each household depending on their individual capacity. StopPests Note: Preparation lists are often burdensome and not necessary, often causing more harm than good. Too much preparation and moving items can scatter the bed bugs making them harder to reach with treatment. Additionally, bagging items up without treating them just reintroduces the bed bugs into a treated apartment after those bags are opened back up by the resident. See this video from BedBug Central to learn more about the low-prep method: Proper Bed Bug Preparation for Public Housing Settings

Did you do any sealing with your treatment?

Sealing is an important part of treatment not just for bed bugs and cockroaches, exclusion and sealants are also important for rodents. However, we didn’t do the sealing ourselves but this was a part of information conveyed to the staff very specifically.

StopPests Note: See this informative video on Developing a Pest Exclusion Program for Cockroaches and Rodents with Dr. Matt Frye of the NYS IPM Program.

How long should a bed bug treatment take?

This is variable and depends on the infestation level and the facility being treated.

StopPests Note: Often treatment failure is due to a lack of thoroughness in treatments. If you notice your technician spending less than 30 minutes per bed bug treatment this should raise concerns, especially if you are seeing repeated treatment failures. Bed bug jobs take time. Heat treatments can take even longer, up to a day.

What was the game that you played?

The game is a board game like Chutes and Ladders. The points on the game are awarded for correct information on bed bugs. Instead of a dice we used wheel. Here is the link to our bed bug adventure game board, which is a poster size for printing. We have the bed bug cut outs for each team when playing and also have a wheel with numbers 3 to 6 to go with the game or you could use dice. Higher numbers make the game go faster. I recommend this. We would ask residents to spin the wheel to play the game. Each team moves the steps based on the number on the wheel or dice. Along with the game, we ask questions about bed bugs. See journey objectives here: Bed Bug Journey Learning Objectives. If they answer correct, they proceed to the next. If not, they will have to move back.

Have there been any instances of staff bringing bed bugs home?

There have been instances when people have brought back home bed bugs from a pest-infested site. In order to prevent hitchhiking bed bugs, personal protection trainings for the staff periodically are essential. Some of the prevention methods we adopted were using different disposable booties over our shoes for each different unit. Additionally, it is important that you take off your external clothing, put in a plastic bag, laundry and dry it immediately, and then take a shower. These are some simple things but very effective.

StopPests Note: You can learn more about personal protection techniques by watching this video: Personal Protection on Home Visits

How effective is organic or green pest control for bed bugs?

One of the most effective treatments that involve no toxic substance at all is heat treatment. Although it is used with other treatments afterwards quite often, heat treatment drastically reduces the amount of bed bugs and can eliminate them completely in many circumstances.

StopPests Note: desiccant dusts are products that kill bed bugs and other insects by drying them out. These products are considered non-toxic but can be over-used or used incorrectly which could cause respiratory issues. Most “green” or organic sprays only work on contact and remember bed bugs are really good at hiding making them hard to reach with sprays of any kind. Waiting to see the results of research before we recommend but there are two potential new natural products. One is a spray with a beauveria fungus that spreads through a population of bed bugs and kills them. Another is a neem-oil based product. Even if these products do show efficacy there is no silver bullet with bed bug control, you will always need a combination of tools.

How long should treatment take for cockroaches?

It depends on the apartment and the severity of infestation. Another important factor is the type of treatment whether there is any vacuuming involved. Because vacuuming and cleaning tend to take more time. Bait placements, on the other hand, can be super quick as long as there is sufficient bait being placed in ideal locations.

What is the difference between baits and sprays?

Baits and sprays are both pesticide products. Baits are designed to be attractive to the pests so that the pest will feed on it and take it to their aggregation site and pass it on to the other members of the aggregation making it more effective than any other pesticide spray. Whereas sprays are also designed to kill pests but they only target the pest that they come in contact with.

How can bed bug infestations get started other than being brought in from active locations?

Bed bugs can move within a building and so can arrive on their own especially in multi-unit apartment complexes. Alternatively, bed bugs can hitchhike in on items like used furniture.

What advise can you give building management when they are contracting with a pest control operator? Where are we can find resources to manage such relationship?

We recommend the more specifics you can build into a contract. We have been acutely aware about the challenges associated with developing a contract. Sometimes entity wants to develop contracts that are pliable to so many different types of environments, which makes it difficult to include any specifics. We recommend taking each unique kind of habitat and writing specifics designed for that.

StopPests Note: we recommend the following resources:

Good Bed Bug Control Starts With Good Contracts

Bed Bug Central’s RFP for Bed Bug Service

Texas A&M’s How to Select a Bed Bug Control Provider

What do think about dogs used to determine bed bugs?

We have seen dogs being used effectively especially when the dog handler is also a pest management professional. It is also important to have a human cross identify alongside the dog. If a dog signals there are bed bugs present, an infestation should be confirmed with a live bug or egg before scheduling treatment.

StopPests Note: canine scent detection has it’s pros and cons. They might be more useful in buildings and places with uniform scents like libraries, buses, movie theathers. People’s homes have competing scents that can distract the dogs. There is a lot of inconsistency between dogs. If considering hiring a canine team make sure they are certified by a third party such as The National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association

Do you have any products that you recommend for bed bug treatments?

We recommend the desiccant dust Cimexa specifically because we ran tests in our lab using different types of silica gels and it was simply the only product that gave us hundred percent mortality. We have resistance concerns with most of the chemicals used for bed bug control. Using a desiccant dust drastically increases the chances that you are going to get good control. Also, since it is very easy for the bed bugs to develop resistance. It is highly advisable that that you don’t use one product constantly and rotate your products for every other treatment.

StopPests Note:  It’s not so much the product used but the thoroughness of treatments. If you can find them, you can kill them. One type of product we always recommend are monitors. The interceptor types that sit under bed and furniture legs (or right next to) have the most research backing effectiveness.

Is it advisable to treat surrounding units when treating a specific unit?

It is advisable to inspect the surrounding units and, if there is infestation, then treat. However, another precautionary approach suggests treating surrounding units when treating a specific unit. This is because there is a possibility that the tools used to kill bed bugs can cause bed bugs to scatter. So, to prevent the bed bugs from spreading to surrounding apartments, it is sometimes advisable to treat surrounding apartment along with the specific unit depending on building construction and the level of infestation.

StopPests Note: A very low-level infestation may not warrant treating surrounding units. Using monitors will help find those low-level infestations before they spread. This can save money in the long run as you won’t have to pay for surrounding units to be treated if the bed bugs are caught early and contained to one home.

Can you recommend some bed bug monitors?

SenSci ActivVolcano is considered an effective bed bug monitor.

StopPests Note: other monitors we have research to back up are the BlackOut and the ClimbUp

Are there any seasons that are worse for bed bugs?

Typically you get more bed bugs during the summer but that may not necessarily be true. Also, people residing in affordable housing units usually maintain temperatures higher than the usual in their units which are conditions favorable for bed bugs.

What is the usefulness of rubbing alcohol or spraying it before entering/exiting a pest infested apartment?

If enough alcohol is sprayed directly on bed bug, the alcohol will kill bed bug. However, if you spray alcohol on your legs and walk around, it’s not useful because the alcohol evaporates and does not affect the bed bugs. Also, the use of alcohol is discouraged other than by professionals because of the flammability risks of the alcohol.

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