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Today’s pest control professionals no longer rely solely on pesticides for eliminating insect pests from structures; instead, modern pest control professionals practice integrated pest management or IPM, which is an environmentally friendly approach to pest control that aims to prevent infestations by means of multiple non-chemical tactics. One aspect of IPM known as “habitat modification” involves eliminating conditions within and near homes that are conducive to insect pests. Eliminating high moisture conditions by keeping gutters free of blockages and repairing pipe leaks are two examples of habitat modification.

Another IPM practice known as “exclusion” involves the elimination of potential entry points and the use of barriers to prevent insect pests from gaining access into homes. For example, using caulk or other sealant products to fill in cracks, crevices and other entry points on exterior walls effectively excludes insect pests from homes. Installing mesh screens over foundation access openings and attic vents is also considered an insect pest exclusion tactic.

Anyone can see how exclusion tactics would work well to keep insect pests from traveling into homes from their usual outdoor habitat, but it is not immediately clear how exclusion could work to prevent bed bug infestations, as bed bugs rely solely on humans for transport into new indoor environments. While exclusion on its own will not prevent or eliminate bed bug infestations, exclusion will effectively isolate and reduce bed bug populations.

Bed bugs spend much of their time seeking out ideal hiding spots, or “harborages” within homes, and they favor harborages that are well concealed within wall voids and other inaccessible areas. Bed bugs remain within their harborages during the daytime, and treatments may not always reach bed bugs that have established harborages within wall voids.

Using caulk or another product to seal narrow cracks, crevices and other potential entry points on interior walls will keep bed bugs within open areas where they can be pinpointed and exterminated. Also, sealing entry points will imprison bed bugs that have already established a hiding spot within wall voids, and their mouthparts are inadequate for chewing themselves out. Bed bugs that become sealed within harborages cease to be of any concern, as they are permanently removed from the population and will eventually die.

Have you ever experienced bed bug issues within your home?