The bed bug infestation which we thought was over post the Second World War era has actually made resurgence in the 1990s. Today, bed bug cities are a national problem in the United States. The bugs are everywhere: in five star hotels, movie halls, clothing centers and even our daycares and schools. Nearly 95% of pest control management agencies in the country claim to have encountered a bed bug issue.
Bed Bugs: You can run but you cannot hide
When it comes to bed bugs (known as Cimex Lectularius), the problem is twofold– not only are they extremely difficult to get rid of; the failure to take necessary safety precautions eases their spread them from one city to another. Hapless travelers are at the greatest risk as they encounter bed bugs in hotels and in airplanes and end up bringing them home through their luggage.
According to a survey conducted by National Pest Management Association (with inputs from entomologists at The University of Kentucky), the number of bed bug cities in America in this decade are up by 10% as compared to the previous decade and by 25% a decade before that.
It is not only America that is suffering from bed bug infestations: even cities in Australia, United Kingdom, Europe and Africa are also facing them. Many of the pest control operators in these countries also believe that bed bugs are the hardest to get rid of than any other bugs.
According to expert pest management researcher, Clive Boase (who has conducted many pest surveys in United Kingdom), the early 1930s had actually seen a significant reduction in the bed bug issues since more National Housing Schemes came to be implemented; additionally, the home inspection rules for checking for vermin were also made more stringent. Similarly, the United States also enjoyed a brief period in the 1940s where there was significant reduction in these pests. This was mainly due to widespread use of DDT based insecticides. However, the same is not true in this era; the use of chemical control is not feasible for widespread use mainly due to higher costs; additionally, the bed bugs themselves are getting more and more resistant to such insecticides.
The rise of bed bug cities is encouraging Governments to rethink their insecticides. However, three factors have to be considered before one can actually create a new line of insecticides:
- They should be safe for use around pets and children.
- They must be effective in killing bed bugs.
- They should be economical.
Even DDT, which was effective in the earlier half of the 20th century, is now no longer effective in killing bed bugs, as resistant strains of bed bugs have been seen in Hawaii, Japan and Korea as well as in Israel, and Iran.
Top 10 Bed Bug Infested Cities in the United States
A survey conducted by a reputed pest management company in 2013 has yielded the following list of bed bug cities in North America:
- New York
- Los Angeles
In addition to these bed bug cities, the following cities in US have also reported an increase in number of bed bug complaints as compared to the year 2012:
- Sacrament- An increase of nearly 54%
- Milwaukee- Nearly 53%
- Las Vegas- 50%
- Columbus- 47%
- Baltimore- 46%
- San Bernardino- 41%
- Louis- 40%
- Cleveland- 36%
- Louisville- 31%
- Denver- 28%
What time of the year are bedbugs most common?
In the bed bug cities mentioned above, nearly 49% reported an increase in the number of complaints in warmer months. However, in remaining 51% bed bug cities, the problem was reported throughout the year.
Where are bedbugs seen in the bed bug cities?
Bed bugs are more common in residential dwellings but they are also being reported in schools, offices and shops. Movie theatres are also not spared. Nearly 9 out of 10 pest control professionals report treating single family homes, condominiums and rental apartments.
Here are further statistics regarding bed bug cities in United States:
- Nearly 75% of infestations are also seen in hotels and motels.
- 47% of college dormitories reported an infestation.
- 46% of nursing homes had increases infestations as compared to 2011.
- Office buildings and schools reported 36% and 41% infestations.
- Public transport and libraries came in last with 21% and 12% infestations across the country respectively.
Bed Bug Infestation: A bit of good news
A bit of good news in these reports is that the compared to data received in 2011 and 2012, the year 2013 actually saw a decrease in number of bed bug infestations in movie theatres which was down by 10%. Airlines also reported fewer infestations, (nearly by 2%) and retail stores were down by 21% as compared to 2011.
Why are detection methods not as effective as they were?
Researchers believe that we have more bed bug cities in USA today than ever due to the fact that the bugs have developed genes that help them produce anti-pesticidal substances. Moreover, simply visual observation for detecting bed bugs is no longer reliable; pest control companies are therefore encouraging consumers to use active monitoring traps and pitfalls to detect bed bug presence.
It is an Epidemic
The rise in number of bed bug cities is showing that America is in the midst of a bed bug epidemic. It is therefore essential that complete removal of bed bugs is done using Integrated Pest Management systems that include heat treatment, the use of right products and continuous monitoring. Only this can help prevent infestations so we can reclaim our bed bug cities back.