Why Have Bed Bugs Made a Comeback?
- Entomologists and pest control professionals have some reasonable theories on why bed bug problems have increased. Here are some possible reasons, but really, no one knows for sure:
Increased worldwide travel
- People commonly travel to and from all parts of the world, including areas where bed bugs are common. Business and leisure travelers regularly travel between all the continents. Developed countries are increasingly multicultural, with residents moving back and forth from their homelands.
- In many cities there are large populations of illegal aliens or temporary workers that are constantly shifting in and out of group residences, mostly in low-income apartments. It is not unusual in Washington DC, for example, to find a dozen people or more living in a 3-bedroom apartment, with the mix of people constantly changing as jobs change and as people return to their home country or move onto another city. Such residences can become heavily infested with bed bugs (if your legal status is questionable, you are not likely to contact property management about a bed bug problem) and act as a focus for other bed bug infestations in the building.
Increase in secondhand merchandise
- Shabby-chic is in: thrift shops have become more popular as have antique markets, flea markets (bed bug markets?), garage sales, etc., all of which increase bed bug risk.
Changes in bed bug habits
- Perhaps because of the repellency of some insecticides being used today, bed bugs seem to be moving more, going from room to room, even becoming active during the day.
People do not recognize bed bugs or the signs of their infestation
- Until recently, most people under 50 had never seen a bed bug.
No “magic bullet” insecticides
- DDT is long gone, as are the other chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticides. Modern insecticides are proving to be somewhat ineffective against bed bugs. We may be facing some level of insecticide resistance.
The pest control industry is bait-oriented
- Technicians no longer regularly spray baseboards or apply insecticide barriers around beds and furniture or otherwise spot-treat inside apartments, hotels, and similar sites. Such monthly or quarterly treatments, even when made for pests such as cockroaches, would also control new infestations of bed bugs. Today, insecticide baits are the most common substitute for traditional sprays. But baits are specific for certain pests such as cockroaches and ants, and there are no baits for blood-feeding insects like bed bugs.