Search This Blog

De Omnibus Dubitandum - Lux Veritas

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Alphabet Soup IPM; Common Sense, Part I

By Rich Kozlovich

Heisenberg’s uncertainty Theory – The more closely you study the subject the less clearly defined it becomes.

Recently there was an IPM/bed bug study produced by Purdue University that took place in a bed bug project which was to determine which type of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) would be most efficacious and cost effective. In the abstract it outlines the program which was to last ten weeks in sixteen bed bug infested high rise low income apartments.

There was to be two treatment styles with apartments allotted for each style of “IPM” treatment. The first was designated as (D-IPM) with diatomaceous earth being the basis for treatment. The second was (S-IPM) with Phantom as the basis for control. Steam treatments and interceptors were also used. In the end the results were much the same. After bi-weekly inspections the costs were $463 and $482 per apartment respectively. There was also a fifty percent failure rate. That’s right! Fifty percent of the apartments were still infested after ten weeks of treatment.

A fifty percent failure rate; and they needed to fund a study to find this out? I would have been willing to tell them that at a fraction of the price. And just how long do we think that it will be before the apartments that were swept clean of bed bugs will be re-infested?

Was this study a failure or a success? If viewed in the traditional concept of failure and success, it would have to be a failure. In many ways it was a failure and in some ways it was a success because it highlights a number of things about IPM that have been a source of discussion between those who worship at the altar of IPM and those of us who believe that what they are promoting as IPM doesn’t exist in structural pest control, because so-called IPM is merely pest control with inadequate tools, which we will explore farther along.

First let’s look at whether this study was a failure or a success. Was it intended to be either? What was this study intended to do. Who benefited from this study? I intend to explore all of these issues.

Very often studies aren’t intended to be failures or successes as we may view things in those terms. They are very often merely designed to see what happens when (X) is done, in other words, “if we do this, what will be the results?” This seems to be the case.

I have had time to think about this and I have come to the conclusion that this study was a glorious success. It was a success because it highlights some important facts that we seem unwilling to face regarding IPM, especially involving bed bug control.

• This is a failure of price
• This is a failure of performance because of inadequate tools
• This is a failure of time
• This is failure of product
• This is a failure of definition
• This is a failure of public confidence
• This is a failure of good public health practices
• This is a success in that it points out what happens in the real world, with real people, living real lives.
• This is a success in pointing out that there is no such thing as an IPM methodology.
• This is a success in pointing out that the average person cannot afford Alphabet Soup IPM
• This is a success for grant chasers
This study was a glorious success because it highlights that fact that ultimately the customer, and society as a whole, is paying the price and will continue to pay the price, for environmental regulations that were not based on science, but ideology.

IPM became the catch word to justify the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA, which along with re-registration, drove products off the market that worked. It is my view that justifying FQPA is what's behind this mad drive to impose IPM. If EPA wasn’t funding IPM it wouldn’t exist in structural pest control. The fact is that IPM in structural pest control has no logical foundation, and can only exists in structural pest control because the federal government says it exists.

They have been successful in removing products from the market that work. They must now be able to show that there is something to replace these products in order to further their goal to eventually eliminate all pesticides. IPM is their answer to pesticides; only it isn’t working.

We shouldn’t delude ourselves about this at all. Every pesticide category that has existed has come under attack in some manner or other from EPA and the greenies, and those products have been eliminated from the structural pest control arsenal. They may have some limited applications elsewhere, but for our purposes; that is immaterial. Chlorinated hydrocarbons are gone, organophosphates are mostly gone, Methyl carbamates are mostly gone and now pyrethroids are coming up for review with the goal of eliminating them also.

True, we now have neonicotinoids and pyrroles such as Phantom, but they apparently not the answer either. And Termidor isn’t labeled for inside use, but that is immaterial becuase it doesn't kill bed bugs. One more point. There has been no pesticide used in structural pest control that has been “banned” since DDT. The EPA has used all sorts of schemes to attain their goals, but outright banning hasn’t been one of them since DDT.

Everyone would like to avoid the fact that this just isn’t just a public health issue, it is an ideological battle; THAT IS THE REAL ISSUE! Bedbugs are merely a symptom to the affliction of ideology versus reality; of green mythology versus truth. We must come face to face with these questions:
  • Does IPM really exist in structural pest control?
  • What is more important; making IPM sacrosanct or eliminating bed bugs?
  • If bed bugs transmitted the plague as fleas do, would we be having this discussion?
No matter what EPA claims; unless you are talking about IPM in agriculture, where it originated and has clear parameters, IPM is an ideology; it is not a methodology.

IPM was an economic program outlined in 1959 in an obscure agricultural magazine, Hilgardia, that being a certain amount of pests cause a certain amount of damage, and certain amount of pesticide costs certain about of money, when the threshold limit of pests causes more damage than the cost of pesticides, then a pesticide application was made. That is pretty straight forward. Now THAT is IPM!

How can anyone translate that into structural pest control? The very idea that IPM is something separate or better than what is called traditional pest control is inherently flawed thinking. There is no threshold limit of pests in homes and businesses.

I have been told the IPM is a successful methodology. Really? Apparently these researchers at Purdue aren’t aware of this “methodology” since they now have an alphabet soup of IPM “methodologies”. S-IPM and D-IPM, with (S-IPM) standing for Phantom IPM, (pun intended).   Well then, how about these as designations?  (SDU-IPM) for Dursban-IPM, or (SF-IPM) for Ficam-IPM, or (SDI-IPM) Diazinon-IPM. It is clear that the IPM can be defined and redefined unendingly. Why? Because IPM in structural pest control is an ideology.  It is not now nor will it ever be a methodology!

Before we further explore what IPM is or isn’t, we need to define what pest control is. Pest control isn’t a methodology either; it is a practice, much like medicine. Don’t get your shorts all bunched up in a knot. Pest control is a practice exactly like medicine, and here's why.

In medicine the doctor (practitioner) examines the patient. In pest control the technician (practitioner) inspects the property. In medicine the practitioner makes a diagnosis. In pest control the practitioner identifies the pest. In medicine the practitioner determines the treatment the will give the quickest most efficacious relief possible. In pest control the practitioner determines the treatment that will give the quickest most efficacious relief possible. In medicine the practitioner outlines a program of preventative health care. In pest control the practitioner outlines a program of preventative applications.

Here is the rub. Does the doctor go through a list of techniques or products before he prescribes the one that will work the best? NO! Does the doctor start his treatment process by “bleeding” his patients first before moving on to more effective methods? NO! Yet those promoting IPM continue to demand that a whole host of hoops be jumped through before a pesticide application is made, insisting that pesticides are to be used only as a last resort. Even the EPA doesn't officially define IPM in that fashion. Are we to first resort to old techniques that became passe when pesticides were developed? If those techniques were so great; why did they abandon them for modern pest control in the first place?

Why should an experienced practitioner have to follow a circuitous plan from people who will do anything, or say anything, to eliminate pesticides? People who aren’t practitioners of pest control and aren’t responsible for the outcome?
  • Do we really believe that the activists and their acolytes in government know how to treat a structure better than those in pest control? 
  • Do we really believe that all the theoretical health claims made by these people are true? 
  • Do we believe that everything we have been doing for over sixty years has been wrong?
IPM is pest control and there is no need to call it anything other than pest control; unless however there is some insidious goal behind this mad drive to impose it on the world. The very idea that IPM is different, better, safer and something entirely separate other than what is called traditional pest control is inherently flawed. Not only was there no definitive “methodology” in these so-called IPM treatments, the ones used in this study failed to produce effective results. The study may have provided the information they were looking for, but I could have told them this without wasting a lot of grant money.

I recently sent out a article that appeared on Monday, July 27, 2009 entitled, “Co-op hair-raiser: $250,000 bed bug bill”, that discussed the “total cost to make the three-tower, 217-unit Theater District co-op a bloodsucker-free zone: $250,000.” The article went on to say, “in addition, everything in the basement storage lockers was packed in impermeable containers and shipped to an off-site exterminator, while the storage rooms were treated. From now on, residents must put all their stored belongings in plastic bins with air-tight gaskets, or double wrap them in airtight plastics. The bug-sniffing beagle visits every week for now, and will eventually return three times a year. (This must be (DOG-IPM) for dog Integrated Pest Management. RK) The $250,000 bloodletting was paid from the building's reserve funds. A board member said it was a bargain compared to the cost of a bigger infestation. Scary. Is anyone is selling bed bug insurance policies yet?”

And this was a bargain?
  • Do we really believe that this kind of service is available to the average person? 
  • Do we really believe that this is the answer to the EPA created plague? 
  • Do we really believe that people are going to stand for this while self-righteous activists inside and outside of the industry pontificate about the glories of IPM?
Since EPA created this perfect storm:
  • I would like someone to once again explain to me why blaming EPA isn't the answer, especially since at the regulatory level they are the only ones capable of ending this problem. 
  • I would like for someone to also explain to me why anyone clings to the idea that chemistry isn't the answer. 
  • I would like someone to explain to me why chemistry was the answer 1946 but it isn’t now. 
  • I would like someone to explain to me why these so-called IPM programs that require unique technology, unending recalls, excessive amounts of money (that most people will be incapable of paying) and eventually repeated pesticide treatments with products that are inadequate is better for the public than what it replaced. 
  • I would like someone to explain to me why Dursban, Ficam and a host of other products that EPA forced off the market was so much worse for the public.
Chemistry was the answer in 1946 and it will again be the answer in 2010, or there will be no answer!

So we come to this question; why do those in research defend and promote this noxious policy so fiercely? Because there is a lot of money involved! Things like the Butterfield Bill are a classic example of what I am talking about. Fifty million a year and bed bugs will be no closer to being eliminated than before. However there will be loads of money for grant chasers. As for government support of this; along with the fact that many government agencies are infested with anti-pesticide activists, bureaucracies live to grow and IPM, the Butterfield Bill, the EPA Bed Bug Summits aid in unending growth.

Do these researchers really believe that IPM is the answer? Do they really believe that the products we lost caused all the terrible health problems that the EPA and the greenies claim? If they do; then they need to say so. If they don’t; then they need to say so. One of these researchers actually said that they ought to build a statue to Rachel Carson because of all the research money that came their way to “study” pesticides as a result of her book and the movement it stirred. What is it all about; grant money or truth? Where are our priorities?

But what about the public? Who will speak for them? Who will answer to them?

There are two great books out there that you may find interesting. The first one is by the American Council on Science and Health, called “Are Children More Vulnerable to Environmental Chemicals? Scientific and Regulatory Issues in Perspective, and Bjorn Lomborg’s, “Skeptical Environmentalist”. Lomborg’s book is very long, deals with all environmental issues, and is highly technical; but anyone who reads it will become very authoritative on green subjects, and many of the actors.



  1. While i agree with the premise that IPM is financially inefficient and 50% ineffective and that IPM exists to facilitate the transfer of funds from those that have bedbugs to those that research, and develop ways to eradicate them, i do have a few points to make:
    Doctors don't start with bleeding but no treatment a doctor administers to a patient can affect anyone else, while the application of say, DDT does affect others through the environmental build up of such pesticides.
    DDT was good for 1946 because the human population was much smaller, travel was far less extensive between continents and people were more polite, cooperative and empathetic to other people. Companies had pride in their hotels.

    The fact of the matter is bedbugs are here to stay, unless they start transmitting disease or a reliable safe way is invented to kill them and their eggs.
    On the whole the public cannot be expected to come together to prevent infestations because not everyone is vigilante or cares and all it takes is one pregnant bedbug.

    I am a BIG fan of DE and have used it for years.

    After reading the study, IMHO, it was ridiculous to think a building of that size with an infestation of that magnitude could be completely free of bedbugs without treatment with proven pesticides like DDT. Too many places for bedbugs to lay low in a building that big and like I said all it takes....

  2. This article is another demagoguic rant against regulation of chemicals to protect the health of people and the environment. The characterization given here of IPM is not what IPM actually is about.
    I would have titled the article "Non-sense Part I" .
    IPM does not exclude use of pesticides. It INCLUDES this, but with real common sense, not NON-SENSE of the kind that is the pulse of this article and which leads back to the parasitism of self-interest.
    IPM is at core... common sense based on knowledge of pests and their habitats, and of people, understanding that to make this work in the urban sector, it takes co-operation and education and a high level of quality workmanship. This is not the old model of "spray the hell out of it to be sure you got every last one of them". This works only temporarily, and at a huge cost to everyone...
    that is reality...

  3. "it takes co-operation and education and a high level of quality workmanship"

    my point exactly, how often do you come across people with these attributes. what are the chances that ALL the residents in a building of this size would cooperate, slim to none. as far as quality workmanship i wonder what the percentage of exterminators is that measure up to that standard and how much will their services cost.