Bed Bugs

About

Bedbugs were originally brought to the United States by early colonists from Europe. Bedbugs thrive in places with high occupancy, such as hotels. Bedbugs were believed to be altogether eradicated 50 years ago in the United States and elsewhere with the widespread use of DDT. One recent theory about bedbug reappearance involves potential geographic epicentres. Investigators have found three apparent United States epicentres at poultry facilities in Arkansas, Texas and Delaware. It was determined that workers in these facilities were the main spreaders of these bedbugs, unknowingly carrying them to their places of residence and elsewhere after leaving work. Bedbug populations in the United States have increased by 500 percent in the past few years. The cause of this resurgence is still uncertain, but most believe it is related to increased international travel and the use of new pest-control methods that do not affect bedbugs.

In the last few years, the use of baits rather than insecticide sprays is believed to have contributed to the increase. With the advent of cockroach bait in the early 1990s, the use of residual insecticides and other liquid sprays were drastically reduced. As it turned out, pest control professionals had not realized that during their monthly treatments for cockroaches (particularly the German cockroach, which infests hotels as bedbugs do) they had helped in the control of bedbugs. This process may have started with the use of DDT but it is no coincidence that the dramatic rise in bedbug activity came approximately 10 or so years after professionals stopped spraying for cockroach activity.

Infestation

There are several means by which dwellings can become infested with bedbugs. People can often acquire bedbugs at hotels, motels, or bed-and-breakfasts, and bring them back to their homes in their luggage. They also can pick them up by inadvertently bringing infested furniture or used clothing to their household. If someone is in a place that is severely infested, bedbugs may actually crawl onto and be carried by people's clothing, although this is atypical behaviour — except in the case of severe infestations, bedbugs are not usually carried from place to place by people on clothing they are currently wearing. Bedbugs may travel between units in multi-unit dwellings, such as condominiums and apartment buildings, after being originally brought into the building by one of the above routes. Bedbugs can also be transmitted via animal vectors including wild birds and household pets.

This spread between sites is dependent in part on the degree of infestation, on the material used to partition units and whether infested items are dragged through common areas while being disposed of, resulting in the shedding of bedbugs and bedbug eggs while being dragged. In some exceptional cases, the detection of bedbug hiding places can be aided by the use of dogs that have been trained to find the insects by their scent much as dogs are trained to find drugs or explosives. A trained dog and handler can detect and pinpoint a bedbug infestation within minutes. This is a fairly costly service that is not used in the majority of cases, but can be very useful in difficult cases.

The numerical size of a bedbug infestation is to some degree variable, as it is a function of the elapsed time from the initial infestation. With regards to the elapsed time from the initial infestation, even a single female bedbug brought into a home has a potential for reproduction, with its resulting offspring then breeding, resulting in a geometric progression of population expansion if control is not undertaken. Sometimes people are not aware of the insects and do not notice the bites. The visible bedbug infestation does not represent the infestation as a whole, as there may be infestations elsewhere in a home. However, the insects do have a tendency to stay close to their hosts, hence the name "bed" bugs.

Locations

Bedbugs travel easily and quickly along pipes and boards, and their bodies are very flat, which allows them to hide in tiny crevices. In the daytime, they tend to stay out of the light, preferring to remain hidden in such places as mattress seams, mattress interiors, bed frames, nearby furniture, carpeting, baseboards, inner walls, tiny wood holes, or bedroom clutter. Bedbugs can be found on their own, but more often congregate in groups. Bedbugs are capable of travelling as far as 100 feet to feed, but usually remain close to the host in bedrooms or on sofas where people may sleep.

Bed Bugs on WikiPedia