For Immediate Release - April 04, 2011

Agriculture Officials Urge Residents to Use Licensed Pesticide Applicators to Control Bedbugs

BOSTON - April 4, 2011 - With the recent uptick in bedbug infestations in the northeast, Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) Commissioner Scott J. Soares today cautioned Massachusetts residents and businesses to use only certified or licensed pesticide applicators to control bedbugs and other pests.

The DAR's Pesticide Program protects public health and the environment by licensing individuals who apply pesticides, registering all pesticide products used in the Commonwealth and enforcing both federal and state pesticide laws and regulations. There are a variety of methods used to control bedbugs, including heat and freezing, but pesticide applications remain the most common way to control bedbugs.

"For the protection of public health and safety, it is important homeowners, residents, businesses, and pesticide applicators are properly educated and use caution when applying pesticide to treat pest infestations," said DAR Commissioner Soares.

Residents, building owners or homeowners who engage a professional company should make sure to ask to see the pesticide applicator's Massachusetts Commercial Pesticide Applicator License or Certification. Licensed or certified applicators are trained to use the proper pesticide indoors or outdoors depending on the specific pest, pesticide and treatment plan. Prior to hiring the company, it is recommended consumers get estimates from several companies along with an explanation of treatment and which pesticide(s) will be used.

DAR also reminds consumers to use caution when applying pesticides themselves. To protect the health and safety of consumers and the general public, DAR reminds consumers to follow the application instructions provided on the labels of all pesticide products.

Individuals exposed to excessive levels of pesticides due to misapplications may experience adverse health effects, which may include skin rashes, respiratory problems, and nausea. Children, the elderly, and other sensitive populations may be particularly susceptible. Symptoms will vary depending on the pesticide and the degree of exposure. In severe cases, those exposed may be required to be hospitalized. Children, the elderly and other sensitive populations may be particularly susceptible to pesticide exposure.

Indoor pesticide misapplications may require an environmental hazard clean-up company to clean hard surfaces or for home or business owners to discard items, such as upholstered furniture, to protect against pesticide-related health problems. Outdoor pesticide misapplications may affect people, pets, plants or in extreme cases, ground or surface water.

Cimex lectularius, commonly known as the bedbug, are nuisance pests that have made a rebound in population over the years. An adult bedbug is reddish-brown, flattened, oval and wingless. These parasitic insects feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals, including humans. Although bedbugs have not been shown to transmit any diseases to humans, the bugs can cause skin rashes and allergic reactions.

Consumers may contact DAR's Division of Crop and Pest Services at 617-626-1700 to learn about a companies' enforcement history or inquire about the status of a commercial license.

DAR's Division of Crop and Pest Services is responsible for the regulation of the agricultural industry and pesticide application services in Massachusetts through the diligent inspection, examination, licensing, registration, quarantine, and enforcement of laws, regulations and orders. For more information, visit http://www.mass.gov/agr/divisions/crop_inspec_services_pest_services.htm.

DAR's mission is to ensure the long-term viability of local agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions - Agricultural Development, Animal Health, Crop and Pest Services, and Technical Assistance - DAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the Commonwealth's agricultural community, working to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture's role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit DAR's website at www.mass.gov/agr, and/or follow us at twitter.com/MDARCommish. For your gateway to locally grown products, specialty foods, and fun ag-tivities go to www.mass.gov/massgrown.