Bed bugs are parasites that mostly feed on humans. If they don’t get to humans they will feed on other warm-blooded animals, including birds, rodents, bats, and pets. Bed bugs have been documented as pests since the 17th century. After World War II, widespread use of synthetic insecticides such as DDT greatly reduced their numbers. But they have been making a comeback since the insecticide was banned in the U.S. in 1972.
Improvements in household and personal cleanliness as well as increased regulation of the used furniture market also contributed to their reduction in numbers.
Why should I be aware of this?
- Bedbugs aren't known to spread disease to humans, although they may be host to the organisms that cause hepatitis B and Chagas' disease.
- Treatment of bedbug bites usually involves self care, but in more severe cases it may be necessary to consult your doctor.
- They can easily conceal themselves in cracks and crevices around the room and within furniture because of their flattened bodies.
- Bedbugs can survive for months without feeding, and can wander between adjoining apartments through voids in walls and holes though which wires andpipes pass.
Bedbugs menace and health
- People are known to become sensitized to the saliva of these bedbugs after repeated exposures over several weeks. Additional bites may then result in mild to intense allergic responses.
- By looking at the bites it is difficult to tell whether they have been caused by bedbugs or some other kinds of blood feeding insects, such as mosquitoes and fleas, as they look almost similar.
- Scratching may intensify the irritation and itching, and may lead to secondary infection.
- A physician should be consulted to rule out other causes for the lesions and to offer treatment, as needed.
- Physicians often treat patients with antihistamines and corticosteroids to reduce allergic reactions and inflammation.
All about bedbugs menace
Bedbugs are experts at hiding in fabric folds, cracks in luggage, boxes, clothing and furniture. Their eggs are very tiny and often overlooked. Bedbugs are found worldwide. Though they became relatively scarce during the latter part of the 20th century, their populations have resurged in recent years, particularly throughout parts of North America, Europe, and Australia. They are active in rooms where people sleep, and generally hide nearest the bed or other furniture used for sleeping.
How bedbugs spread
Bedbugs hitch rides on people's clothing, jump from host to host when people brush up against each other in crowds to travel from one place to another.
They also spread through mattresses. Reconditioned mattresses, which are refurbished old mattresses, often spread bedbugs into stores and homes. In addition, bedbugs can spread when old and new mattresses are transported in the same truck.
Experts say bedbugs have been all but dormant for decades. The recent comeback is said to be primarily the result of increased global travel, along with the banning of potent pesticides like DDT.
Bedbugs in hotels
Bedbugs have become a real threat to the expanding hotel business and to travelers worldwide. According to the Wall Street Journal, the hotels accounted for the biggest proportion of reported bed bug infestations.
Following the banning of DDT the problem seems to have aggravated further. Some of the insecticides are ineffective for bed bugs eggs.
Increase in leisure and international travel, along with the spread of natural fabrics is making hotels a greater breeding ground for bed bugs. As they cannot be detected they can get infested in your luggages and move along with you.
What can I do?
- Engaging a pest controlling company is the best way to remove bedbugs. Such companies also clear various other transients in the house like pests and insects and not only bedbugs
- The qualified pest controller has invested in paraphernalia to remove bed bugs. The bedbug termination process has become very sophisticated and pest control experts use pesticides or insecticides made of specific chemicals
- The chemicals present in the substances they use are very severe and lethal. It is advisable that you don’t touch these chemicals and allow the specialist pest controller to execute the job.
- If the services of pest control specialist are not available, handle every substance with the most care.
- Remember that the pesticide formulation has to be very strong and deadly since insects, plus bed bugs have tough and durable systems.
- Unfortunately humans are not as tough. More than hundreds of cases of poison and death due to inhaling or coming in contact with pesticide are reported by pest control companies.
- In order to avert such an occurrence, ensure that each pesticide is handled very carefully.
- Avoid spraying in unnecessary areas. Later clean up the sprayed areas for probable residues afterwards.
How to prevent infestations
- Never pick up furniture and other used household items from the curb or dump.
- Before dumping your luggage down in a hotel or motel room, check for bedbugs. Look tiny round blood stains on the beds. Check in and around the headboard, the fabric piping around the edge of the bedspread, under the mattress and in any crack or fabric folds.
- Place baggage as far away from the bed as possible, preferably on a hard surface.
- If you find little red bites on your body, report it to the manager.
- Inspect your luggage and everyone’s luggage before bringing it into your home. Check for bugs in the cracks, fabric folds and even under the fabric.
- If you find bedbugs on or in your luggage, treat everything inside by washing in hot water or placing in the dryer. If possible, place your luggage in your freezer for 24 hours. Vacuum the luggage or throw it away.
Not much research has been done in the behavior of bedbugs and population dynamics as these bugs weren’t common until fairly recently as to not have much economic impact as a common household pest. Not much information is also available regarding their infestation by geographic location. There may be some climate-related factors of spread in the winter months as the bedbugs are killed in cold. However, it may be that they are also susceptible to heat in warm regions.
More on Bedbugs menace
What can I do to help
- Bed Bugs
- Ask the Experts: What are bedbugs?
- Bed Bug Menace - How To Exterminate Them
- Biology and Management
- Bedbugs In Hotels