Over the past two years, pest management professionals have watched the bed bug industry boom as optimistic entrepreneurs and inventors flocked the industry in hopes of cashing in with the next big bed bug device. While the influx of products helps increase options for PMPs, it also increases the need to test products and services for performance and efficacy.
This growing trend was evident at BedBug Central’s North American Bed Bug Summit held in Chicago, IL. The event attracted more than 700 hundred attendees and vendors. The focus of the Summit centered on education between entomologists, bed bug experts, and various public sectors affected by bed bugs. However, with vendor attendance more than doubling since the first annual summit last year, it’s clear that the business of bed bugs has created a modern gold-rush mentality.
The resulting influx of bed bug products and services has created a need for increased product evaluation by pest management firms. Understanding the evaluation process will enable pest management firms to make informed decisions about the products they use and recommend. This knowledge will also help companies the most effective protocols possible.
Below are some key issues pest management professionals should consider when evaluating and selecting new products for their services or when providing as recommendations for residential and commercial clients:
The Difficulty of Evaluation: True evaluation on the efficacy of a particular bed bug product or service can be complex, costly and time consuming. In many instances, pest management firms will not have the resources or expertise needed to conduct a thorough evaluation. However, there are several options that can help assist in the selection process.
Third-Party Labs for Research: The best piece of information to look for when evaluating a product is third-party, independent research conducted by a laboratory not affiliated with the product being evaluated. Third-party labs could be university affiliated or for-hire research companies. University affiliated labs are usually the best option when evaluating a product as many of the studies universities release are not funded by the product being evaluated. That being said, you should always research and see if the product funded the research as this may mean that the protocol for experimentation may have been supplied by the manufacturer and be designed to allow for the product to succeed. Truly independent research is the best option for evaluating products.
Cooperative Extension Programs: The second option to consider is reaching out to state cooperative extension programs or other experts within the community to seek their opinion of the product being evaluated. A simple inquiry about a product to experts or extension agents can provide you with valuable insight in regards to the effectiveness of a product. While many of these opinions are only based on field observation, it is usually based on multiple experiences and is usually consistent with scientific testing that has been conducted on the product in question.
Manufacturer Research: Many product manufacturers provide prospective clients with self-generated research highlighting the efficacy and performance of their service. These results should be reviewed in the proper context as manufacturers have a financial interest in the product. However, if no other form of research exists, these self-generated evaluations can be a good starting point. When possible, ask manufacturers if they used a third-party lab to evaluate their product as this will increase the credibility of their research.
Supply Issues: The bed bug product and service industry is still relatively new. As a result, small or recently established companies are developing many of the most effective products for bed bug management. While some have had the time to set up the necessary manufacturing and distribution infrastructure, many have not. If you have evaluated a product that can be recommended to client or incorporated into your program, be sure to assess whether or not the manufacturer has the ability to supply your demand quickly and consistently.
Incremental Improvements: Much like the technology industry, bed bug products and services often undergo incremental improvements to increase effectiveness or enhance functionality. Many small product-manufacturers are not well funded and as a result, they will release a new product and begin improvements on the device as they receive feedback and revenue for development. When selecting a product, consider asking if a new version is under development or scheduled for release.
Educating Customers: Pest management firms can create more value with their customers by being knowledgeable about effective, do-it-yourself products that clients can purchase. In addition to simplifying services calls, products such as insect interceptors, mattress encasements or luggage heating chambers can provide customers with peace-of-mind. It will also be important the client understands the limitations of these products. To educate customers on this material, you can visit BedBug Central to review product breakdowns and uses or refer clients directly to the website: http://www.bedbugcentral.com/.
As entrepreneurs and innovators continue to flood the market with new products and services, pest management professionals will play an increasing role as gatekeepers for effective product recommendations. It will also be essential to understand the basic evaluation steps that can be taken to determine if a product is a good fit for your services. As long as bed bugs remain lucrative for innovators, we can expect this trend for years to come.
About BedBug Central
BedBug Central serves as the an authoritative information resource and website available to the public for information concerning bed bugs and bed bug related issues concerning health, prevention, and treatment methods.More information can be obtained at www.bedbugcentral.com.