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Rutgers Professor Fights Bedbugs in New Brunswick Housing Projects

Bedbug Problems in Schwarz Homes and Robeson Village Studied by RU Entomologist
NB Housing Authority
Rutgers is helping the NBHA tackle a bedbug problem at the Schwarz-Robeson housing projects in the Fourth Ward. Charlie Kratovil

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Rutgers entomologist Changlu Wang has been working on new methods to eradicate bedbugs, and testing those methods in the City of New Brunswick's public housing units.

Currently, the New Brunswick Housing Authority operates approximately 1,400 public and assisted housing units within the city.  

Wang is a Professor in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS) at Rutgers University, who specializes in entomology, the scientific study of insects.

A bedbug is a blood-sucking parasite that resides primarily in beds and feeds on the blood of human beings.  They are found predominately in urban areas.

In November, Professor Wang, along with Narinderpal Singh and Richard Cooper from the Department of Entomology at Rutgers University, published a paper on various methods of bedbug removal. 

The paper, titled "Effectiveness of a Reduced-Risk Insecticide Based Bed Bug Management Program in Low-Income Housing" was based on results of tests primarily conducted in the Scwarz Homes and Robeson Village public housing complexes in New Brunswick's Fourth Ward.

Professor Wang had been contacted by John Clarke, Executive Director of the New Brunswick Housing and Development Authority, asking Wang to visit a number of housing units that had been infested.

"Based upon our experience," reads the study, "Most affordable housing management teams in New Jersey use low-bid and low-quality pest control services that only suppress bed bug infestation, but do not necessarily reduce or eliminate the infestations."

Wang's research team tested and combined two comprehensive methods to eradicate bed bugs.

In the first method, the team would employ a mixture of steam heat and an insecticide dust.

"We used a combination of steam, reducing clutter, installing mattress encasement, applying insecticide aerosol or dust when needed for killing bed bugs," Professor Wang said. 

In the second method, the team would interact with residents and officials from the New Brunswick Housing Authority, utilizing an educational program so as to know how to prevent and avoid bed bugs in the future.

"We installed bed bug monitors and examined them every 2-4 weeks for 6 months to evaluate the effectivness of the program," said the professor. 

According to follow-ups, the program reduced bed-bug levels by approximately 96% in the housing units.