Bed bugs are small, flat, parasitic insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. They are reddish-brown in color, wingless, range from 1mm to 7mm (roughly the size of Lincoln’s head on a penny), and can live several months without a blood meal. One of the easiest ways to identify a bed bug infestation is by the tell-tale bite marks on the face, neck, arms, hands, or any other body parts while sleeping. However, these bite marks may take as long as 14 days to develop in some people so it is important to look for other clues when determining if bed bugs have infested an area.
Where did bed bugs originate?
These parasites reside all over the world. The infestation rates in the developed countries had decreased from the ‘30s to the ‘80s. However, their numbers have been greatly increasing since the ‘80s. Before this, they were still rather common in the developing parts of the world, but extremely rare in the developed world.
Infestations began increasing even more rapidly over the past few years. The current number of infestations is similar to the mid-century numbers that were seen. The number of infestations is still on the rise.
Despite the fact that they became resistant to DDT within several years, we were still able to control them with the use of other chlorinated hydrocarbons like lindane. An organo phosphate insecticide known as malathion was also used.
By the mid ‘50s they were not a major pest in the household, now only an occasional pest. Generally, they would be found in the settings that were socially depressed or in areas with other rather unusual circumstances. Every so often a problem may arise in a prison, shelter, cabin or youth hostel, nearly never in hotels or homes.
What has caused the Resurgence Seen Today?
Pest control professionals and Entomologists have several reasonable theories pertaining to why the problems with these bugs have increased. Here are some of the possible reasons; however, no one is certain.
Increased Travel Worldwide
People travel to all the continents for business and pleasure. The developed countries are becoming more and more multicultural and the residents continue to move back and forth between countries. Naturally, this kind of travel would assist in their transportation.
Some of these areas being traveled have infestations. The bugs are removed from one area and then introduced to another in various ways. These bugs can be transported from one country to another on the body, clothing or even luggage. Many times they are found in airplanes, including in the cargo hold area. Overnight stays in motels; hotels and Inns can also assist in the transportation from one location to another.
A Change in Bed bugs Elimination Practices
Previously hotel rooms were usually treated regularly with residual pesticides. Because of this, these bugs that were introduced during travel would generally be exposed to that pesticide once they left their transport source to travel to the bed.
These kinds of residual pesticide application
monthly or even quarterly treatments for other pests would control any new infestations. Currently, insecticide baits are commonly used as a substitute for the traditional sprays.
However, the baits are specifically designed for a certain type of pest like ants or cockroaches. There is not any bait used for the blood feeding insects.
Increase in the Use of Secondhand Merchandise
Unfortunately thrift stores, flea markets, antique stores and garage sales are now more popular than ever.
Unfortunately, all these secondhand merchandise stores and markets increase your risk of becoming infested. In addition, many people do not think twice about picking up the recliner sitting on the side of the road. This practice also increases your chance of becoming infested.
Typically, bat bug infestations originate from bat populations established in attics, wall voids, unused chimneys, or uninhabited portions of the house. Bat bugs typically do not wander far from occupied bat roosting sites where they have easy access to food. However, if their normal hosts are eliminated or vacate the area, they will seek other sources of food and may crawl about and invade living areas within the house.