Who could have believed a few years ago that one of the better attended seminars at Kampground of America Inc.’s (KOA) International Convention in Savannah in November would have addressed the squeamish topic of bedbugs?
It’s a problem that had receded along with the World War II generation, but has again reared its ugly little head in a wide variety of places – restaurants, insurance companies, churches, office buildings and, yes, RV parks and campgrounds as more of them cater to park models, cabins and a variety of new lodging concepts.
A study conducted in July by the National Pest Management Association and the University of Kentucky found almost 20% of exterminators had been to workplaces for bedbugs vs. 1% three years ago.
“We are dealing with bedbugs one case at a time,” explained Mike Atkinson, director of lodging for Kampgrounds of America. “The campground industry in the United States is not heavily infested as a general rule. KOA in particular has had only minor issues.”
But that doesn’t rule out the need for campground owners to become educated about what Atkinson refers to as very industrious little bugs, samples of which, floating in vials of formaldehyde, were passed around to the seminar attendees.
“We need to be on top of this issue and handle it properly so we can be a bedbug-free industry,” he said. “The lack of education is the source of our fear. Once you have a little bit of knowledge about them you don’t fear them.”
Bedbugs, which dine on human blood, were previously eradicated in the United States, but have slowly come back over the last 30 years mainly due to overseas travel and the ban of the chemical DDT.
“Bedbugs are a fascinating little creature, actually,” Atkinson said. “They will only live within about five feet of a meal – in close proximity to beds. They sense the carbon dioxide people exhale so that is why they come out at night. We emit carbon dioxide continuously while we sleep. They inject a little anesthetic before they bite and that is why victims don’t wake up to the biting.”
These hardy insects can go without a meal if they have to for up to 18 months.
“What we were trying to figure out is the eradication technique that would work the best at campgrounds,” Atkinson said.
When Atkinson began reading articles about the issue he came across a common denominator – Wayne Walker, senior pest controller at the University of Florida, who wound up as the presenter of KOA’s bedbug seminar.
At the University of Florida, where there has been a bedbug issue within married housing, Walker developed and openly endorsed a unique process utilizing Nuvan ProStrips for dorm room size, which is also ideal for cabins at campgrounds.
Nuvan ProStrips, made by Amvac Chemical Corp., Axis, Ala., are hung up and vapor off bedbugs and other pests. The active ingredient is dichlorvos (DDVP).
“There is a specific technique for use in a small area, like a cabin or a lodge,” Atkinson said. “It kills them in all life stages. It is not harmful to humans. It takes about 48 hours and campground owners can re-rent the cabin. There is no danger, no residual in the air. We have seen it be 100% effective so far.”
Atkinson said campgrounds can use it freely, although it’s not available for use in New York or Connecticut because of restricted use on pesticides.
Visit www.amvac-chemical.com/nuvan_prostrips_labels.html for more information on Nuvan ProStrips. Visit www.bedbugregistry.com to see a listing by state of lodging where bedbugs have been found.