Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Bed bugs in China

A recent article published in the Journal of Medical Entomology by entomologists at South China Agricultural University caught my eye today. The study reported on bed bug infestation rates of homes in two south China cities.  While the results were not very detailed, they do give an interesting peek inside the world's most populous country with some of the world's most crowded cities.

The size of its cities, and the potential pest control market, in China is staggering. The combined population of the two cities in this study is 18.75 million (Texas population is about 27 million), and each of the two cities in the survey support approximately 1000 pest control companies (Texas supports about 3,000 companies statewide).

In addition to dense urban populations, city residents are highly mobile.  In one of the cities, the transient population (recent arrivals from the countryside and other cities) was estimated at 78%! Such conditions seem tailor-made for bed bugs, who are easily transported in luggage.  In addition, in the winter most of the population in the two cities simply vanishes into the countryside for the very important Spring Festival.

Surprisingly, until now the bed bug has not been reported as a major, widespread pest in China; though according to this survey, that may be changing.  A preliminary survey of 11 companies from the two cities estimated that 35% of all accounts being treated involved bed bugs. In examining the records of two medium to large sized pest control companies, 29-42% of all service visits involved bed bug infestations. In the largest city, Shenzhen, 91.1% of all rooms in apartments treated were infested with bed bugs, and 56% of workers quarters were treated for bed bugs.  In the neighboring city of Dongguan, 83.7% of serviced apartments had bed bugs, and 61% of worker quarters treated were infested.

By the way, China has double trouble with both the tropical bed bug, Cimex hemipterus, and the common bed bug, C. lectularius.

With its 1.3 billion citizens, China is a huge pest control market. The same with Mexico and other Latin American countries.  I've been thinking about this recently because the U.S. is hosting the International Congress on Entomology in 2016 in Orlando, FL. This will be the largest gathering of entomologists in the world, including top experts in urban and structural pest control.  It seems to me that PMPs as well as research and extension entomologists have a lot to learn about the way pest control is conducted in other countries. So if you are ready to learn more about your global partners in pest control, consider making a trip to the ICE in two years.

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