If you wake up and find you have little, itchy red bites, you may have bed bugs. If you see red smears or black dots on clothing and especially bedding, you may have bed bugs. If you see little exoskeletons laying around the house, you almost certainly have bed bugs. And you are not alone. Bed bug infestations are increasing steadily over the last few years and account for a large portion of calls to professional pest control companies.
Recent research shows that bed bug infestations are increasing at rest homes, offices, schools, daycare centers and homes across the United States. To add to the growing problem, most pest control professionals consider bed bugs to be one of the toughest pests to control. So how did we get into this mess in the first place?
A Little History…
Bed bugs have been a nuisance wherever humans have lived for centuries. These pests came to North America along with the original colonists and continue to be a problem today in even greater numbers. For a brief time after World War 2, they were all but eradicated because of the highly toxic pesticides used during that time.
Pesticides such as DDT were in widespread use over the decades leading up to the early 70s and were highly effective but also very toxic to humans as well. The United States banned DDT in 1972, followed by a ban on Chlordane in 1988 and as more and more people learned of the harmful effects of these pesticides, the face of pest control began to change.
The public still wanted effective pest control but was no longer tolerant of the traditional, highly toxic pesticides. Pest control companies took a more environmentally friendly approach using specific pesticides for specific pests, usually at a lower toxicity. These approaches were better for humans, but unfortunately, they were better for bed bugs as well.
The less toxic pesticides were no match for bed bugs, and they began to flourish.
Air Travel: A Bed Bug’s Best Friend
As the use of less toxic pesticides gained in popularity, the ability of pest control companies to tackle the bed bug problem became more and more difficult. Bed bugs began to get out of control and the traditional methods of baiting, trapping, etc. were not effective like they were with roaches, rodents, and other pests.
As pesticides became less effective, the number of people flying across the world increased. People visited countries where bed bugs enjoyed a free reign which allowed the pest to hide in suitcases, clothing, and pocketbooks and eventually led to a full-blown resurgence in the United States. So today we have more bed bugs and less effective methods of control which has created an ideal environment for bed bugs to prosper.