CE's ECO: A Green Tinge to Bedbug Busters
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A Green Tinge to Bedbug Busters

Warrick Bell, left, and Brian Hirsch, who work for a company called Protect-A-Bed, at a bedbug convention in Rosemont, Ill.Sally Ryan for The New York Times Warrick Bell, left, and Brian Hirsch, Protect-A-Bed emissaries, at a convention in Rosemont, Ill.Green: Living

A bedbug convention – the broadest of its kind in recent memory – continues in Rosemont, Ill., on Wednesday, a reminder that while these returning pests have certainly made a lot of people miserable lately, they are also keeping a lot of others employed.

Still, a central question looms at the conference even as the entomologists warn that there is no end in sight: What will the next solution to bedbugs look like?

To hear Phillip Cooper, the president of BedBug Central, which organized the sessions, tell it, there will indeed be a solution (just as there seemed to be decades ago when DDT was believed to have eradicated bedbugs). “There’s going to be a silver bullet,” Mr. Cooper said this week. “Whether it’s in five years, 10 years – it’s going to happen.”

That notion seems wishful for some places, like New York, where some stores have closed after outbreaks and nearly everyone seems to be looking behind box springs for some telltale sign. And another factor — environmental consciousness — has come to the fore since DDT first came along, adding a new challenge to whatever the new solution might be.

The list of possible antidotes is long, ranging from heating to vacuuming. Among a sampling of conferencegoers here, the least popular solutions involved sprays, dustings or anything involving chemicals. Heating, expensive but effective, was highly popular — and praised for being natural and nontoxic, at least for nonbugs like you and me.

Nearly everyone spoke of being “green.” (Indeed, the antibedbug companies here seem to have explored every possible permutation combining the words “bedbugs,” “green,” “safe” and “clean.”) Pest control companies boasted of being Green Shield Certified. So what is the ultimate answer?

No one seems quite sure. And not everyone here will benefit from whatever that “silver bullet” ultimately turns out to be. Asked whether the bedbug situation would be solved soon, one pest control company owner said jokingly, “Please, God, no!”


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