Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Why Billions of Bed Bugs are Biting

By Alan Caruba

After decades during which bed bugs were a rare event, they now make headlines infesting places from the Jersey City Goldman Sacks building to a Victoria’s Secret shop on New York’s Upper East Side, along with dormitories, apartments and homes throughout the nation

The bed bug explosion is more related to the loss of the means to exterminate them than the bugs themselves. The bed bugs are doing what all insect populations do; they are reproducing by the billions.

On August 10, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a “consumer alert” whose sole purpose was to continue its drumbeat of fear regarding any use of pesticides and to imply that pest control professionals could not be trusted to help one rid themselves of this ubiquitous pest.

All pest control professionals are subject to state licensing and annual certification to ensure they receive training in the proper methods of applying pesticides. Many firms conduct in-house training sessions year-round and the profession’s trade associations provide seminars as well. Suffice to say that everything about the provision of pest control services is highly regulated.

Since its founding in 1970, the EPA has dedicated itself to banning as many pesticides as possible. Its first “victory” was the banning of DDT in 1972. The result has been upwards of 90 million deaths from malaria worldwide. The truth is that DDT saved more lives than any chemical in human history until being banned from use in the U.S. and by other nations.

I have worked with the pest control industry for a quarter century and in the 1980s I helped promote an extraordinary pesticide, Ficam, a product that effectively killed a wide range of insect pests and was applied with nothing more dangerous than water!

After years of safe use, the EPA told the manufacturer that it had to re-register the product. Having previously spent around $15 million for the original registration, the British-owned company did the math and concluded it would be too expensive to go through the process again. It is no longer available in America.

The EPA’s action had nothing to do with the efficacy of the pesticide. It had everything to do with its unspoken policy of driving pesticides off the marketplace, whether for use by pest control professionals, for agricultural use, or by the general public.

And that is why America is experiencing a bed bug epidemic.

According to a joint statement on bed bug control from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the EPA, “Though the exact cause is not known, experts suspect the resurgence is associated with increased resistance of bed bugs to available pesticides…” and other causes such as greater international and domestic travel.

One pretty good guess at the “exact cause” is the continued loss of pesticides with which to knock down insect and rodent populations that nature provides in the billions.

In the “Bed Bug Handbook”, a guide for pest control professionals, “People often assume that any EPA-registered product that has bed bug treatment instructions on its label must be effective at controlling bed bugs. But this is not necessarily true. EPA policy is to rely on market forces to ensure that a product does what it claims; the agency does not require efficacy testing.”

The EPA and countless “environmental” organizations have effectively “educated” Americans to be afraid of chemicals in general and pesticides in particular. The claim is that they pose a threat to people’s health and this is true if one drinks them direct from the container. All poisons are based on the “dose”, the amount of exposure and, in the hands of a pest management professional, that factor will be very-low-to-none.

Today’s pest management professionals go about their job using the principles of Integrated Pest Management. High on the list is the least use of pesticides to knock down a pest population.

Ask yourself why, a hundred years before the invention and widespread use of pesticides, was an American’s average life span was about forty years of age? Given the use of pesticides, why do we now live up to eighty years? The answer is that pesticides protect lives and property too.

There is no real logic behind the EPA’s continued efforts to ban pesticides, but there is an illogical, unreasoned, and a lot of very dubious “science” behind the relentless effort to deprive Americans of the protection pesticides provide.

As I frequently remind people, take away the pesticides and all you have left is pests.

In the case of bed bugs, you have a particular pest that is very difficult to eliminate without a lot of intensive effort and the need to return to the scene of the infestation to get at those bed bugs that were hidden away between blood meals and will survive, become active, and lay eggs that become nymphs in a new generation to be exterminated.

It should come as no surprise that the joint CDC-EPA statement was heavy with warnings about “pesticide misuse” and “greater risk of pesticide exposure for those living in a home.”

The advice offered is laughable. It recommends using “monitoring devices” when most people learn about a bed bug infestation when they get bitten!

The statement recommends “removing clutter where bed bugs can hide”, “vacuuming”, and “using non-chemical pesticides (such as diatomaceous earth” and, finally, “judicious use of effective chemical pesticides” as the last choice.

The message is that it is the pesticides that are the problem, not the bed bugs. The reason we have seen a bed bug explosion is that the EPA has eliminated many of the pesticides that were formerly in use, creating the perfect storm, a growing resistance to those still registered for use.

The bed bugs don’t care that a generation or two of Americans have been brainwashed to think pesticides are bad, but you should.

© Alan Caruba, 2010


HokieFan said...

Mr. Caruba,

I remember hearing that the EPA apparently banned DDT under pressure from conservationist groups claiming that DDT was causing the extinction of the bald eagle. DDT was apparently causing the egg shell of the bald eagle to be formed unusually thin and brittle. Is this true, or just a smokescreen?


LarryOldtimer said...

The plain fact is: Either humans kill the harmful insect-like creatures, or they kill us.

When I was a lad on a farm, before DDT became available, our farmhouse became infested with bedbugs. My parents had to seal the house, and we had go vacate the premises for a couple of days, but what worked to entirely rid the house of bedbugs permanently was burning candles made of paraffin with powdered sulfur mixed in, one in each room. Stick with regular candle wax the bottom of of each candle to a wide shallow dish, then fill to about 3/8th of an inch deep of water, and light the furthest sulfur candle from the door, going to the one nearest to the door. After a couple of days, air the house well before entering.

I wouldn't guarantee that this would work, but it was very inexpensive and did the job for us.

Banning DDT completely was one of humanity's most suicidal acts in the history of humankind.

Alan Caruba said...

There was no danger to the bald eagle or other birds. In time studies refuted that nonsense. It belongs in the same catagory as the lies about the Spotted Owl being endangered.

The movement to ban DDT and the environmental movement in general began in response to Rachel Carson's pack of lies called "Silent Spring." She has the deaths of millions from malaria on her hands and I hope there's a special place in Hell for her.

Necromancer said...

Is she still alive and kicking? If I remember right both LBJ and Tricky "D" had something to do with the EPA back a few years ago. I don't remember the details but imagine they are on the internet somewhere.

John A said...

In an attempt at some [re;uctant] fairness to Ms. Carson, she was reporting accepted science about DDT and egg-shells. It was not until after publication of her book that the research was discredited - the "scientist" had effectively replaced nearly all calcium in the study birds with DDT. Not that I found this, somewhat inadvertently, until many years later... Newer studies seem to show that an excess (?) of DDT can cause shell-thinning in some species, if not to a very high risk level.

The EPA ban was done by the then political-appointee agency head, admittedly ignoring all the evidence actual EPA research (such as it was/is) showed.

Rich Kozlovich said...

I read Silent Spring many years ago and thought it was great and Rachel Carson was also. That was before I grew up and learned something. I am now re-reading it and I am appalled at what Carson’s acolytes call science. Carson was a great writer; unfortunately it was science fiction.

The lies about egg shell thinning are still being told today, but in reality one of the most frequently used studies that showed DDT supposedly caused egg shell thinning was a study where the researcher deliberately restricted the amount of calcium in their test subject’s diet. After it was discovered that this is what he did he was required to redo the study with sufficient calcium in the diet, and there was no egg shell tinning at all. This pattern of lies and unnecessary regulations has continued until today.

The Ficam issue is a classic example of redundant testing and regulations. The fact of the matter is that after a product has been out on the market for 15 years you absolutely know if it causes problems or not. And the demand for re-registration is usually after the product is out of patent and the costs do not justify maintaining the registration.

It is nothing more than a scheme by the environmental activists in and out of government to get rid of pesticides without having to ban them. That requires a hearing and after the DDT debacle they haven’t tried it since.

Billy Mac said...

Alan, Love this post. I've been in the pest control industry for the past 20 years and this is crazy. I attended the EPA Bed Bug Summit and I'm still waiting for some real material to come out of it. We need a silver bullet and the EPA is not with us.

Alan Caruba said...

To All:
Rachel Carson is long dead, but her anti-pesticide, anti-chemical legacy lives on because people are too lazy or stupid to check the facts.

Carson set out to write a polemic, a diatribe against chemicals. Like all environmentalists, she lied, fudged data, and leaped to conclusions with no basis in fact. If she relied on a falsified study, it is just one example of a constant trend among the Greens.

The global warming hoax is made up entirely of falsified "science." It has cost the US to waste $79 billion over the past decades on "climate change" research.

cabby said...

Alan I'm sure your aware of the socialist behind the Environmental movement the Feminist movement, etc but if you want to see a video that lays it all out watch "AGENDA Grinding America Down". The facts behind what we're suffering now from the radical socialist is laid out as I've never seen it before. It leaves no doubt about how our troubles began who is behind them and where we're headed. It's a lot of reality to handle and if we we're in the middle of it now no one would believe it. I hope you review it. All of the names, the books the organizations and the objectives are laid bare. There is no opinion, unless you count belief in God, there are only facts of what was planned and how it has now come about for all to see.

loplop said...

I am new to this site but have been reading Caruba for years. They still use DDT in Ensenada, Mexico on the local farms next to my fish camp that I have maintained for thirty years. The bird life there is profuse, amazing. There are even black ibises spotted there and they don't even belong on this continent, according to birders.

HokieFan said...

I apologize for my ignorance... I tried to do some research on the issue, but all I keep coming up with is the environmentalist side of the argument (something that I am no longer surprised about considering the sorry state of affairs the current media is in)... Thank you, Mr. Caruba, for explaining the counter-argument (which is probably closer to reality)! I certainly hope there is a reckoning coming soon to those (like Rachel Carson, Jimmy Carter, and Al Gore) that continue to destroy science in the name of politics...


Keith said...

Great post, thanks for the info. In the big picture, pesticides have done more good than people realize. I would put up with pesticide rather than the disease.

Rich Kozlovich said...


Here is a site that lists many articles regarding DDT.

You may also wish to visit Steve Milloy's "100 Things You Should Know About DDT."


Dave's Daily Day Dream said...

Some would say that genocide was one of the reasons for the elimination of DDT. It seems to be working for them.
She was also a theosophist believing in the unity and equality of all living things. Eugenicist? Probably, in the same fashion as the Nazis.

Lincoln said...

Dear Mr Caruba,
I will gladly support your wish for the EPA to remove the ban on DDT under the condition that they also remove the ban on Zyklon B, the latter in your honor.


Alan Caruba said...

First, you defile the name of Lincoln.

Second, you are an anti-Semite and bigot.

Third, this is the first and last comment you will ever post here.

Fourth, I just want others to see what an A-hole you are.

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