Birmingham, UK Plays Host to the Ninth ICUP Conference

There is no other event in the world that can match the International Conference on Urban Pests (ICUP) for its strength and depth of urban pest management expertise. Held every three years the 2017 event, which came to Birmingham, UK from 9 to 12 July, attracted some 250 pest management academics and service professionals from 37 different countries including over 30 from the U.S. including NPMA’s own Dr Jim Fredericks, Vice President, Technical and Regulatory Affairs.

Global climate change the opening theme

Insects and how to combat the threat they pose dominated the programme. The opening plenary session, introduced by Dr Matthew Davies, chair of the ICUP 2017 organising committee, included global issues such as climate change and the unintended consequences of regulation.

Partho Dhang, an independent consultant from the Philippines detailed how over 50% of the world’s population now live in cities, often located near seas or rivers, yet this represents just 1% of global land mass. These conurbations provide ideal habitats for pests with an abundant supply of food, water and habitat. The predicted rise in global temperature by 2°C could cause radical changes for insects. As cold blooded organisms their body temperature reflects the immediate environment and with the predicted rise in temperature they could experience one to five additional life cycles per season. Likewise rodent populations would also thrive.

Bed bugs to the fore

However, the one pest that is clearly attracting the most academic interest and, by implication the most research money, is bed bugs. The event was delighted to welcome three eminent bed bug experts from the USA, Dr Dini Miller of Virginia Tech, University of Kentucky’s Prof Mike Potter and Jeff White from BedBug Central, New Jersey. All three presented interesting papers. Dr Miller’s research examined the impact of ‘clutter levels’ on heat treatments for bed bug control and concluded that these made little difference to the success of the treatment. The tactics used during the treatment such as heating the room quickly and then going in to shock the bugs by moving furniture, tipping up the bed etc. along with the use of sensors to identify cold spots, were much more important.

Prof Potter’s paper highlighted the fervent responses bed bugs provoke in most travellers. When booking accommodation online, a single report of a bed bug infestation (whether it was accurate or not) would cause the majority of travellers to choose another hotel.

Bed bug presentations were also made by Corraine and Seth McNeill from Union College, Lincoln, Nebraska who reviewed their work on gender specific vision in bed bugs and Dong-Hwan Choe from the University of California, Riverside who detailed his work analysing the pheromones in shed bed bug skins.

Network opportunities a key part

Whilst the scientific presentations provide the focus of ICUP events, the discussions over coffee and lunch prove equally important with a global exchange of opinions and friendships struck.

Another unique feature is that both printed and digital copies of all the papers are presented as proceedings at the start of the conference. For those unable to attend, these proceedings can be bought from the 2017 ICUP organisers from Proceedings, which are searchable, from all previous ICUP events are also available on the main ICUP website at

Spain the venue for 2020

The final word fell to Dr Bill Robinson, from the Urban Pest Control Research Centre, Virginia, USA, who jointly with Clive Boase, from the Pest Management Consultancy in the UK, has masterminded these events since their inception in 1993. Bill announced that the tenth ICUP will be held in Spain at a similar time of the year in 2020. Details, as they are finalised will initially appear on the ICUP website See you there!