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EPA Recommends Chemical-Free Insecticides On Bed Bugs

Bed bug populations seemed to disappear around the time of World War II, when DDT nearly wiped them out completely. Nearly. Scientists now theorize that the few who survived developed a resistance to DDT and similar pyrethroid substances that are used in traditional bed bug pesticides.

Because of this, the EPA now recommends that homeowners avoid the chemical approach when treating for bed bugs, for fear that overuse of current insecticides will lead to stronger resistance and unstoppable outbreaks.

One chemical-free option in diatomaceous earth. Made of fossilized diatoms with a sharp texture that cuts bed bugs and dehydrates them, diatomaceous earth products kill bed bugs on contact or through consumption.

Another approach is integrated pest management (IPM). In this case, this would mean a combination of house-cleaning habits- including using a vacuum suction wand in cracks, crevices and seams-direct removal and heat treatment techniques and monitoring populations in order to manage them would help to control bed bug populations. In agricultural systems, beneficial pests that consume unwanted pests are another component of IPM.

Although the growing bed bug problem is a disturbing problem for everyone, it has turned a necessary spotlight onto the issue of excessive pesticide use. The need for an IPM strategy reveals the importance of an integrated approach to controlling insects, whether in our bed sheets or our strawberry fields. Complete eradication is impossible. But by working within the ecological system and using balanced control mechanisms, a consistent low population can be maintained – the key to sustainability.

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