Bed Bug App Helps Identify, Prevent & Eliminate Infestations

From home invasions to surprise travel mates, the Bed Bug Field Guide smartphone app provides information to assist with any encounter of the tiny pests.

Aiming to educate the public on what exactly a bed bug looks like and the correct way to get rid of them, Susan Jones, a professor of entomology at The Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) created the Bed Bug Field Guid, essentially the "bed bugs app."

In addition to individuals, house mates and families, cities across the United States are experiencing the bed bug scourge first hand. Municipalities have been forced to address protocols within their agencies and public buildings, such as Rogers County Courthouse in Claremore, Oklahoma, and some state governments have passed or are exploring legislation to address this challenge.

Bed Bug App Information Funding

The creation of the app was funded by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency via Region V pass-through funding to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Division of Plant Health and developed by EduTechnologic.

Jones is a member of the Central Ohio Bed Bug Task Force, and wants to help others positively identify bed bugs, in hopes they can effectively be eradicated, at least more than they currently are.

"The bed bug problem is not going away, so we wanted to create an app to get factual, relevant information into the hands of as many people as possible in an easy-to-use format," Jones said in an interview with Pest Control Technology website. "There's so much misinformation out there, so we wanted to provide the most factual that we can about bed bugs."

Identifying and Eliminating Bed Bugs Infestations

In the free app available in both the App Store and the Google Play Store, the field guide contains 15 chapters-worth of information regarding bed bugs, from pictures that help distinguish from other bugs to tips on what to do if you encounter them while traveling.

In the app, users can:

  • Learn how to distinguish bed bugs from other pests, including german cockroaches and beetles

  • Learn how to rid them from your home without destroying your belongings

  • Understand what to do if you encounter them while traveling

  • Learn what a bed bug bite looks like and how to provide first aid

  • Learn how to monitor your home after an infestation

  • Learn how to eliminate bed bugs from public places, such as workplaces, schools and vehicles

How Bed Bug Infestations Affect Cities

Bed bugs are a difficult problem to have, but one that can be dealt with if done so efficiently; however, it becomes an even bigger obstacle for multi-family homes and in cities with lots of people packed into small areas.

In New York City, bed bug sitings have almost become a part of the city's culture, like rats or roaches, despite the "right to have a bedbug-free environment," which is included in the city's housing and maintenance code (subchapter 2, article 4) of bugs that landlords are legally required to exterminate.

However, that's easier said than done in heavily populated cities. Bed bugs can retreat into the walls or other units while others are being sprayed, making it nearly impossible to completely rid the building of the bugs.

In a New York Times article from 2009, "some lawyers have begun incorporating sellers’ representations about bedbugs into sales contracts, adding to now-standard ones about leaks, mold and noise issues."

Bed Bug Legislation

Only three states have bed bug legislation on the books: California, Connecticut and Maine. Colorado hopes to pass a bill in spring 2019 that would unite politicians on the issue as a public health stance.

"Having some bed bug legislation would define and set expectations for how to treat and prevent infestations," Kevin Lemasters, president of EnviroPest in Loveland, Colorado, said.

In public safety spaces, the risk of bed bugs doesn't diminish. The Jackson Township Fire Department provided the Central Ohio Bed Bug Task Force a list of ways to protect the firehouse and the homes of first responders from bed bug infestation. The JTFD recommends:

  • Wearing disposable shoe covers on scene

  • Designating a pair of boots for runs to high-risk areas (schools, apartment buildings)

  • Leaving work clothes at the fire house

  • Putting dirty laundry in a sealed bag until it can be washed

  • Resetting the dryer for an additional 30 minutes after clothes are dry

  • Covering bunks with "mattress encasements"


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