Socio-spatial Ecology of the Bed Bug and its Control

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Award Year: 
Principal Investigator: 
Daniel Schneider, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Michael Levy, University of Pennsylvania
Associated Program: 


Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are a resurgent problem in cities worldwide. Over the past decade bed bugs have reestablished themselves as a common urban pest throughout the United States. Bed bugs present significant public health and economic concerns. In this project we explore how the structure of human society is implicated in bed bug distribution, and how understanding the social, political, and geographical processes affecting bed bug populations can help direct control efforts on multiple scales. This pursuit will bring together experts in urban ecology, epidemiology, medical entomology, population modeling, population genetics, GIS and health, environmental justice, environmental history and urban and regional planning. The team will develop evidence-based models to untangle key features of the epidemic, evaluate the likely success of different control measures—such as policies currently in place or under consideration to require landlords to treat for bed bugs, mandate disclosure of infestations to potential renters, our limit exchange of second-hand furniture—and consider the broader effects (intended and unintended) of such policies on housing markets and poverty.

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