Bed bugs infestations are reaching epidemic proportions with no end currently in sight. Rather than reaching their apex, bed bug numbers are increasing yearly with the rise expected to continue for 2014.
In 2013, Chicago was determined to be the number one city having bed bug problems, with cities such as Detroit, Los Angeles, Denver, Cincinnati, and Columbus following. Bed bugs mainly gain media attention when multiple-unit dwellings and other public areas are affected but infestations can be found in single family home units as well.
Early Bed Bug Surges
While bed bug infestations began around 2004 according to experts, news stories regarding these annoying critters didn’t begin until 2010. This is the year that buildings with multiple units, such as apartment complexes, began having substantial issues with controlling bed bug populations. Since then, these little bugs have made headlines on a consistent basis due to their resilience and ability to spread quickly. Public areas such as schools, libraries, department stores, and even public transportation can experience problems with huge bed bug populations.
The 2013 the Bugs without Borders Survey, conducted by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), had confirmed that bed bug infestations were encountered in condos or apartments by 98 percent of pest management companies, and increase from 90 percent in 2011.
While these critters had been nearly unnoticed in prior years, world wide travel has shown an increase in populations in the U.S from countries where bed bug populations had not been controlled. These tiny insects travel in personal property items, easily going from place to place via luggage, boxes, shoes, pant hems and any other little hiding place they can make their way into. Resistance to common pesticides has made bed bug populations grow and spread quickly from place to place within the U.S. Experts in Entomology and the pest control industry have voiced their opinions on the rising bed bug levels and what it means for the country as a whole.
Dini Miller, Ph. D., Department of Entomology at Virginia Tech said “Bed bugs have been a hot topic in the news during the past several years; especially when a new geographical area is infested or bed bugs are discovered in public places such as hotels or shopping centers. Unfortunately, people have become desensitized to the issue, leading them to believe the risk has decreased, but the issue is actually greater than before.”
Michael Bonds of Organic Pest Control NYC said “For the most part, bed bug levels are rising. In addition to this reality, we’ve found many of the individuals and businesses that we serve have developed a higher threshold of tolerance for these pests, which actually compounds the problem. This is a dangerous combination, as people are essentially enabling these populations to spread by feeling like there is no way to win the war against them. In cities like Chicago and New York, where residents are living more densely, this acceptance of bed bugs is becoming more common. The public needs to educate themselves on the risks of bed bugs to prevent infestations. We try to educate our customers on all fronts regarding bed bug prevention.”
Understanding Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are hard to control due to resilience to common pesticides, their ability to travel, and reproductive habits. Bed bugs typically reproduce several times over the course of a year, or even daily, with females laying hundreds of eggs over their lifetimes, which can be as long as 9 months time if the conditions are right. Bed bugs can travel in any item they can find a hiding place, such as luggage, boxes, shoes, used furniture, and all types of clothing. These tiny creatures can withstand a wide range of temperatures, even surviving negative degree temperatures for several days. Adult bed bugs can live for several months without feeding.
Those who have detected bed bug infestations in their homes experience a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety from the situation. The amount of work and cost associated with eradication is enough stress in and of itself. However, the added stigma that is commonly associated with those who have a bed bug infestation adds to the problem. Bed bugs are not caused by lack of cleanliness or any wrongdoing on the part of those unfortunate enough to develop a bed bug issue but rather the misfortune of bringing bed bugs from another location or living close to another infested area.
Locating Bed Bug Populations
The bite of a bed bug typically goes unnoticed so detection is not always easy. The first place to begin is areas such as mattresses, bed rails, headboards, and bedding since these resilient pests often reside near where they feed. Check in folds, seams, and creases for tiny white elongated eggs, nymphs, shed skins, adult bed bugs, tiny blood smears on sheets from bites, as well as patches of tiny dark brown to black dots of bed bug waste. However, bed bugs can travel over a large area quickly so populations may occur in nightstands, dressers, wallpaper, and other small hiding places within a room. These critters can also hide in electrical sockets and have been known to populate inside of electronics such as laptops and radios that sit near beds or couches.
If bed bugs have been detected in the home, it is important to have the population eradicated as quickly as possible to prevent further spreading. It is best to consult professional pest control services in your area in addition to home control methods. Special heat treatments and vacuuming can help eradicate these nuisance insects when combined with professional treatment methods.
It is important to be able to detect bed bugs and their presence at home and in public areas to prevent bringing them into the home in the first place. There are special products that can detect the early presence of these creatures. Use of encasements for both mattresses and box springs can go a long way in preventing bed bug infestations.