09 Feb Research and bed bugs – a frustrating exercise

My apartment block got it’s first case of bed bugs in 2007 and I knew nothing about the critters. But given that my favourite hobby was researching I took up my education on the topic with gusto. I soon learned that I had a big problem.

My first foray into my education was google. I would search a particular sub topic within the bed bug field and received many completely contradictory opinions. I soon learned that the internet was filled with ignorant opinions with no basis in fact. There are some real gems available on line but they are rare like gold in a farmer’s field. The best sources were the university publications and a select few web sites run by people that actually killed bed bugs for a living.

One of the reasons that the research is so frustrating is that the bed bug is poorly understood by everyone – even the experts. If one could magically publish a complete knowledge of bed bugs I suspect it would take hundreds of encyclopedic publications requiring an entire book shelf to hold it. The real experts understand perhaps one volume of that book shelf. The internet opinions often contain not one shred of knowledge. And when one researches bed bugs the information bounces between those two types of sources. There is so much we do not know about bed bugs.

The last few years have seen an explosion of research and some of it is very good. Unfortunately the best research and the most interesting findings are not published as there are financial / patent pressures. The most knowledgable folks are keeping mum. As such the research that is published usually has little information that we can actually use.

The source of this blog has been a frustration with the above. As a hands on exterminator I have learned about bed bugs through experience. I like to combine what I learn on the job site with bed bug experiments in my teflon pans. Hopefully I can add to the scant knowledge that we have about bed bugs. If someone tells you he/she is an expert in the field and offers little humility with what is unknown I suspect what they offer is just hot air.