The Bed Bug Epidemic

Why are we overwhelmed by bed bugs?

There is no one cause of the current bed bug epidemic that started in the mid-90s and has been gaining increasing strength, culminating in major public recognition in the United States with the 2009 National Bed Bug Summit in Washington, D.C. Major causes of the epidemic are:

    1. The elimination of DDT and other pesticides that had largely eradicated bed bugs in the western world as a major pest of concern.

 

    1. The transition to targeted roach baits for the eradication of cockroaches, thereby inadvertently eliminating some protection against bed bug populations.

 

    1. The evolution of resistance by bed bugs to certain insecticides: organophosphates, carbomates and pyrethroids.

      War on Bed Bugs presents an interesting article entitled “Myths of Bed Bug Resistance,” essentially stating that this will be a continuous and evolving dilemma that does not call for the elimination of pesticides.

 

    1. The dramatic increase in international travel, particularly from countries in Asia and Eastern Europe and the skill of bedbugs at global hitch-hiking. There are no easily available statistics on the presence of bed bugs in countries previously sealed from the western world, such as those behind the former “iron curtain” of Russian influence and China, which have greatly expanded their connections with the western world.See UK International Travel Statistics and a specific reference to the 2002 Sydney Australia Olympics as a catalyst for the bed bug epidemic in Australia. As in any epidemic, hotspots provide some indication of why we are in this mess. These listings of bed bug infestations in Astoria, NY and Vancouver, Canada are typical of neighborhoods with an international flavor and high immigrant population.

 

    1. An increase in domestic travel and mobility as people migrate not just from one country to another, but from city to city, due to changing economics.We know this to be true about countries such as the United States, but we fail to fathom theprofound changes in countries like China, where millions of people have migrated from rural areas with no doubt little if any documentation of bed bug infestations into cities, where they come into contact with western visitors.

 

    1. The bed reconditioning industry was found to be short-cutting the reconditioning process. Here is a case of Bed bugs in newly reconditioned mattresses.

 

    1. Numerous industries have grown to support a mobile population, none of them equipped for or understanding how they may contribute to the epidemic, such as residential movers.

 

    1. Recent deployment of western soldiers in third-world countries.

 

    1. The lack of skills among modern pest control professionals, not familiar with bed bug infestations. This is one cause that is being addressed as calls for bed bug control become more pronounced and the level of interest in and training for bed bug control improves, such as the education and certification programs available through Bed Bug Central.

 

    1. The lack of familiarity of the public with bed bugs causes the problem to be misdiagnosed and prolonged. Case in Point, this blogger asks if he is dealing with bed bugs or mites.

 

    1. Group living is more and more common. Residents arrive from a broader geographic reach, often staying in various hotels or motels, before arriving at their group living address: a camp, a college dorm, a treatment program, from hence they infect and spread the epidemic. Here, Cornell University provides a manual on Prevention and Management of Bed Bugs in Shelters and Group Living Facilities.

 

    1. Followers of the green movement may be prolonging and spreading infestations. This author is a strong supporter of the green movement. Nevertheless, while the green movement is highly admirable, it faces a problem that is often raised with green treatments. Does the extended length of time required to solve the pest problem with little or no pesticides harm others downstream through infestations that are not solved expeditiously with these low-risk methods?A green treatment can be as problematic as a treatment by a pest control technician using standard methods. In fact, whether using green or standard methods, treatments must be extremely thorough.

      One critical advantage that pesticides provide is the element of a “residual” or lasting chemical presence to address bed bug stragglers. Residual pesticides “are forgiving,” creating control that might not have been 100% perfect at the completion of the treatment. Of course, those arguing for a green approach will argue that bed bugs will not become resistant to vacuums and steamers (although even that may not be true, as natural selection promotes many forms of defenses, not just to pesticides).

 

    1. The expense of bed bug control causes the public to often self-treat, which extends and prolongs infestations.

 

  1. The litigious nature of American society causes pest control companies to stay away from the bed bug control sector and requires those that do stay in the business to demand high prices often unaffordable to large segments of the public.

Business Week – The Economic Cost of Bed Bugs

What is the future of the bed bug epidemic?

In our estimation, it is very bleak. Why?

    1. The cost of bed bug litigation works against lowering pest control prices to more affordable levels.

 

    1. Bed bug resistance to existing pesticides will only get worse. No one will give up travel to stop bed bugs.

 

    1. The world is getting smaller by the minute.
    2. People may change some things about their lifestyle, such as buying used furniture or selectively choosing hotels, but the potential of bed bug infestations will abound.

 

  1. The level of cooperation required by the bed bug stricken requires an intensity that few can follow or achieve.

There is a “perfect storm” for the bed bug epidemic, with no end in sight. All you can do is become informed, alert and pro-actively inspect, inspect and inspect.

Call today at 1-800-986-1006 for help with a bed bug infestation. You’re also welcome to complete the form below and a caring Hearts Pest Management representative will contact you shortly.

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