Rural Alaska is well known for its wolves, bears, and moose, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set its sights on a considerably smaller creature: the bed bug. The EPA is prepared to award a grant of up to $100,000 to help Alaska Native Village communities to right bed bug infestations by "break[ing] down barriers to effective bed bug management."
The project, expected to last two years beginning in October 2015, will be a test case and resource for similar programs elsewhere in Alaska. The grant proposal lists four main goals:
-Identify appropriate roles of various organizations and regulatory agencies with respect to bed bugs
-Identify the bed bug treatment, education, and outreach services needed in rural Alaska
-Provide communities in rural Alaska with effective tools and accurate information to address bed bugs when an infestation occurs
-Use integrated pest management principles in the approach to dealing with bed bugs
Specific activities may include creating "culturally appropriate educational materials, providing supplies "such as interceptors, laundry bags", developing a "village action plan" to deal with outbreaks, and "identify[ing] how pesticides for bed bugs are being used and disposed of throughout the state."
The Alaska Dispatch News reported last year that the prevalence of bed bugs was up significantly in the past decade:
In Anchorage, the city logged 68 bed bug complaints in 2013, a decrease from the 84 in 2012. There was just one complaint in 2007 and 2008 combined, according to city data...
In 2013, Pied Piper Pest Control, with branches in Fairbanks and Juneau, sold more than $30,000 in retail products to fight bed bugs. "Up 1,000 percent from 2008," he said.