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MDA Alerts Consumers to Use Licensed Companies and Registered Products When Selecting Pesticides to Control Bed Bugs

ANNAPOLIS, MD (Aug. 12, 2010) – The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) joins the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in alerting consumers that there has been an increase of individuals or companies who offer to control bed bugs with unrealistic promises of effectiveness or low cost. Because bed bug infestations are so difficult to control, there have been situations in which pesticides not intended for indoor residential applications have been improperly used or applied at greater rates than the label allows. While controlling bed bugs is challenging, consumers should never use, or allow anyone else to use, a pesticide indoors that is intended for outdoor use, as indicated on the label. Using the wrong pesticide or using it incorrectly to treat for bed bugs can make you, your family, and your pets sick. It can also make your home unsafe to live in – and may not solve the bed bug problem.
Make sure you are getting the service you pay for by taking the following precautions before hiring any pest control services

  • Deal only with an MDA-licensed firm. Visit the MDA Pesticide Regulation Section’s online database  to check on the license status of companies or call 410-841-5710.
  • Ask to see MDA-issued identification cards of sales and service personnel.
  • Do not accept service over the telephone without other contact with the company. Ask for an inspection of your property and for a written proposal that outlines the pest control program.
  • Only use registered products.  Look for the EPA Registration Number (example EPA REG. NO. 1000 – 555) found on all registered pesticides, or call the National Pesticide Information Center for information on specific pesticides 1-800-858-7378.

MDA requires that pest control companies provide customers with specific information about the pesticide product(s) used at their property.  This information is to be provided either at the time they enter into a contract with a customer or on the day of the actual pesticide application.  The product information can include: 1.) an original or legible copy of the current pesticide product label, 2.) an original or legible copy of that portion of the current pesticide product labeling containing precautionary statements regarding hazards to humans or animals and environmental hazards, or 3.) a document containing appropriate health, safety, or precautionary information that has been taken from the pesticide label and approved by the Department before its distribution.
Consumers can also search and browse MDA’s on-line database of licensed pest control companies that are licensed to perform bed bug control services [pest control category 7-A (General Pest Control)] and registered pesticide product for bed bug control.

Bed bugs can cause itchy bites on people and pets. Unlike most public-health pests, however, bed bugs are not known to transmit or spread diseases. Pesticides are only one way to get rid of bed bugs. A comprehensive approach that includes prevention and non-chemical treatment of infestations is the best way to avoid or eliminate a bed bug problem.  This method of pest control is called integrated pest management and includes a number of common sense control methods. Visit EPA’s website for examples of non-chemical methods of control.
If you need to use pesticides, follow these tips to ensure your safety and that the product works:

  • Before using any pesticide product, READ THE LABEL FIRST, then follow the directions for use.
  • Check the product label to make sure it is identified for use on bed bugs. If bed bugs are not listed on the label, the pesticide has not been tested for bed bugs and it may not be effective.
  • Any pesticide product label without an EPA registration number has not been reviewed by EPA to determine how well the product works.
  • Make sure that the pesticide has been approved for indoor use.

For more pesticide information for consumers, click here for MDA’s online database of pesticide companies and products or call 410-841-5710.

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Contact Information

If you have any questions, need additional information or would like to arrange an interview, please contact:

Jason Schellhardt
Director of Communications
Telephone: 410-841-5888

Megan Guilfoyle
Public Information Officer
Telephone: 410-841-5889

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