The Bedbug Story
EPA says, “The common bed bug (Cimex lectularius) has long been a pest – feeding on blood, causing itchy bites and generally irritating their human hosts. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) all consider bed bugs a public health pest. However, unlike most public health pests, bed bugs are not known to transmit or spread disease. So it looks like Americans are on their own in the fight against this pest. Read on to know your enemy.
The name “Bed bugs” comes from their preferred habit of seeking warm homes and living in or near the bed to be close to a life-sustaining meal. Bed bugs don’t hate us they just use us as their local neighborhood McDonald’s.
HOW LONG, HAVE WE KNOWN ABOUT BED BUGS?
Bed bugs were mentioned in ancient Greece as early as 400 BC. Prior to the 1950s, bed bugs were very common. According to a report by the UK Ministry of Health, in 1933 all the houses in many areas had some degree of bed bug infestation. Initially, the problem was solved by fumigation, using Zyklon Discoids that released hydrogen cyanide gas, a rather dangerous procedure. Later, DDT was used with good results as a safer alternative.
Where Did Bed bugs go?
The decline of bed bug populations in the 20th century is often credited to potent pesticides that had not before been widely available, and public awareness.
When Did Bed bugs Make their Comeback?
Bed bug infestations have resurged since the 1980s. for reasons that are not clear, but contributing factors may be complacency, increased resistance, bans on pesticides and increased international travel. The U.S. National Pest Management Association reported a 71% increase in bed bug calls between 2000 and 2005. As of 2012, there were fewer effective pesticides. Pesticides that have historically been found to be effective include pyrethroids, dichlorvos, and malathion. Resistance to pesticides has increased significantly over time, and harm to health from their use is of concern. If you purchase professional pesticides you MUST READ THE PRODUCT’s LABEL!
“Bed bugs have increased dramatically as a public health pest throughout the country. While bed bugs are not known to transmit diseases, they can cause stress, discomfort, and sores. Experts suspect the resurgence is associated with greater international and domestic travel, lack of knowledge regarding the complex measures needed to prevent and control bed bugs due to their prolonged absence, and increased resistance of bed bugs to available pesticides. EPA believes they need to redevelop expertise in the pest control community to ensure the control tactics are multifaceted and comprehensive.” says the EPA.
Bed bugs have a few natural enemies that can help reduce their population. Natural enemies of bed bugs include the masked hunter insect (also known as “masked bed bug hunter”),\ cockroaches,\ ants, spiders (particularly Thanatus flavidus not found in the USA), mites and centipedes, particularly the house centipede (In the United States, it spread north from the southern states, reaching Pennsylvania in 1849, New York in 1885, and Massachusetts and Connecticut in about 1890. In 2009, its distribution extended from Virginia in the east to the coast of California in the west). However, a 2007 publication said that biological pest control was not considered practical for eliminating bed bugs from human dwellings.
What to Do about Bed bugs?
The carbamate insecticide propoxur, which is no longer available for sale, is highly toxic to bed bugs. It has potential toxicity to children exposed to it; the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been reluctant to approve it for indoor use. Boric acid occasionally applied as a safe indoor insecticide, is not effective against bed bugs because they do not groom.
EPA Bed Bug Pesticide Alert
- Never use a pesticide indoors intended for outdoor use. It is very dangerous and won’t solve your bed bug problem.
- Using the wrong pesticide or using it incorrectly to treat for bedbugs can make you sick, may not solve the problem, and could even make it worse by causing the bed bugs to hide where the pesticide won’t reach them.
- Check if the product is effective against bedbugs — if a pest isn’t listed on the product label, the pesticide has not been tested on that pest and it may not be effective. Don’t use a product or allow a pest control operator to treat your home with any product unless bed bugs are named on the product label. Just any pesticide won;t do.
- Before using any pesticide product, READ THE LABEL FIRST, then follow the directions for use.
- Keep in mind that any pesticide product without an EPA registration number has not been reviewed by EPA, so we haven’t determined how well the product works.
Recommended Bed bug Pest products
There are many methods to effectively prevent and manage infestations of bed bugs. For example, when traveling, use luggage racks to hold your luggage and do not place your luggage on the bed or floor. Upon returning home, unpack directly into a washing machine using hot water, and inspect your luggage carefully. To manage infestations, learn about the signs of bed bugs and carefully inspect mattresses and other fabrics for the presence of bed bugs. If discovered, control should begin immediately by removing clutter where bed bugs hide, sealing cracks, encasing mattresses, vacuuming, heat treatments, and the careful use of pesticide products explicitly approved for bed bugs.
- Don’t visit places where you are aware of or suspect there may be a bed bug infestation.
- Seek a professional exterminator. (sometimes cost prohibitive).
- Purchase professional products and do it yourself. (lots of work for two people, but affordable for most).
Common Bedbug Myths (Information furnished by EPA)
Myth: You can’t see a bed bug.
Reality: You should be able to see adult bed bugs, nymphs, and eggs with your naked eye.
Myth: Bed bugs live in dirty places.
Reality: Bed bugs are not attracted to dirt and grime; they are attracted to warmth, blood and carbon dioxide. However, clutter offers more hiding spots.
Myth: Bed bugs transmit diseases.
Reality: There have been no cases or studies that indicate bed bugs pass diseases from one host to another.
Myth: Bed bugs won’t come out if the room is brightly lit.
Reality: While bed bugs prefer darkness, keeping the light on at night won’t deter these pests from biting you.
Myth: Pesticide applications alone will easily eliminate bed bug infestations.
Reality: Bed bug control can only be maintained through a treatment strategy that includes a variety of techniques plus careful attention to monitoring. Proper use of pesticides may be part of the strategy, but will not by itself eliminate bed bugs. In addition, bed bug populations in different areas of the country have developed resistance to the ways many pesticides work to kill pests. If you’re dealing with a resistant population, some products and application methods may only make the problem worse. It is a good idea to consult a qualified pest management professional (PMP) if you have bed bugs in your home.