© Rinelle | iStock.com

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in a PCT e-newsletter titled “Focus on Bed Bugs,” which was sponsored by MGK (www.mgkpro.com).

The definition of pro bono is “work undertaken for the public good without charge” and the pest management industry is certainly generous with its talents.

From providing complimentary pest management services to families of deployed military families to protecting historic landmarks and non-profit organizations’ facilities from a variety of pest threats, pest management professionals have risen to the challenge.

During the past decade’s bed bug resurgence, pest professionals have lent their expertise to deserving clients to eradicate these stigma-causing pests. From transitional housing to charitable organizations’ storage or retail facilities, PMPs have certainly done their part.

This generosity, however, comes with a word of caution.

“Make it clear from the outset that the bed bug services you are providing are a donation and there are no guarantees,” says Rick Cooper, Ph.D., vice president/technical director, of Cooper Pest Solutions in Lawrenceville, N.J. “You also need to decide exactly what type of services you are willing to provide.”

CREATING LIMITS. Companies will want to establish limitations on what services will be performed, when they will be performed and what the duration of service will be. For example, is this a one-time treatment or will you provide ongoing monthly or quarterly visits as part of your donation? And as with any service PMPs will want to inspect the facility being treated ahead of time to determine the scope of the service and identify any special concerns.

Cooper Pest Solutions has worked with several non-profit organizations in New Jersey helping them with bed bug issues and their donations have combined both treatments as well as a healthy dose of education. The company worked with a non-profit group that collected used furniture and redistributed it to individuals or families that had lost theirs due to fire, flooding or other unplanned relocation.

“Furniture — bed frames, couches and chairs — are ideal hiding spot for bed bugs and must be inspected for evidence of an infestation and treated, if necessary, before they are given away,” says Cooper.

As part of its two-prong donation, Cooper Pest Solutions provided training to the organization’s staff on how to inspect incoming furniture arrivals for signs of an infestation and built a heat chamber that allowed them to treat the furniture.

Cooper says the group embraced the inspection and heat chamber training, and was able to sustain both a bed bug prevention and elimination strategy that yielded successful results.

In another case, Cooper Pest Solutions worked with a local housing shelter that was at high risk for bed bugs due to the transitional nature of its residents. The company again used a blended approach combining treatments with education to deliver a successful outcome. “The thing to remember is that pro bono services will only be there for a moment in time but the need for professional pest management expertise is usually much longer,” says Cooper.

Cooper says transitional housing personnel know their facilities are continuously at risk for bed bug issues and that a treatment to improve the immediate condition is just one part of the process. The other part of the solution is providing education and training.

Cooper Pest Solutions performed a heat treatment on the furniture and sleeping cots, a steam treatment on cracks and crevices, and installed interceptors throughout the facility. They also provided training for the facility staff on how to properly identify the signs of a bed bug infestation during the intake process and how to discuss bed bug prevention to residents. In addition, they demonstrated how to properly install and use interceptor devices, and where to purchase steamers to knockdown future infestations. “With any charitable effort we try to prepare the facility for a better, pest-free future,” says Cooper.

The author is a partner at B Communications, Mentor, Ohio.