Entomologists Say Infestation Has Not Peaked
The plague of bed bugs was first noticed and reported around 2004, it did not make national news until 2010 when it often seemed that every sighting was being reported as it became clear that they were showing up everywhere.
In 2013, the National Pest Management Association confirmed that 98 percent of pest management professionals had encountered a bed bug infestation that year in an apartment or condominium, an increase from 90 percent in 2011.
Entomologist Dini Miller, PhD, at Virginia Tech noted that “Bed bugs have been a hot topic in the news during the past several years”, but regretted that “people have become desensitized to the issue, leading them to believe the risk has decreased, but the issue is actually greater than before.”
It is the view of both entomologists and pest management professionals that the plague is growing.
“There is no place where humans live or work that is immune to a bed bug infestation,” says Leonard Douglen, Executive Director of the New York Pest Management Association, “and this problem has now spread to all fifty states since they became a significant pest problem as the new century began, invading homes, apartments, dormitories, hotels, and just about anywhere humans lay down to sleep. Bed bugs can detect a body in the room or in one nearby.
Bed bugs get their name from their favorite place to hide out, a mattress, box spring, and bed frame. They can be found in any dark, warm place in a home, apartment, or workplace.
“There has been a dramatic increase” in calls to pest management firms concerning bed bug problems in recent years, Douglen estimates that bed bug-related calls throughout New Jersey has increased 80% to 90% since 2000.
“Bed bugs cannot be exterminated with off-the-shelf pesticides,” said Douglen. “Only a professional pest management firm has the knowledge and the EPA-approved pesticides to rid a home or other structure of bedbugs and it usually takes several trips to do it.”
One dramatic case of a do-it-yourself effort resulted in a New Jersey home being heavily damaged by a fire in 2013 that began with the homeowner’s use of a space heater, a hair dryer, and a heat gun to address a second floor bed bug infestation. “Do-it-yourself efforts are usually futile says Douglen, “for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is finding and identifying them.”
Douglen noted that pest management professionals frequently recommend purchasing plastic cases for mattresses that will trap any existing bedbug infestation and keep out a new one. “The plastic must be at least three millimeters thick.”
“The good news is that bed bugs do not spread diseases in the same way as mosquitoes or other pest insects. This doesn’t mean, however, that being bitten by them doesn’t cause itching and discomfort.”
“The problem is attributed to the increase in international travel. People coming into New York and other States from foreign nations bring them in via their luggage. From there, they can spread to anywhere people stay for the night.”
Not only do Americans travel abroad in large numbers, but millions of foreigners visit the United States every year.
The quarter-inch long bugs feed primarily on humans at night when they are asleep. Some people have no reactions to the bites, but others experience swelling and redness where they are bitten. While bed bugs do not spread disease, they do leave behind tiny droppings of blood and give off a sickly sweet odor.
Bed bugs can live for more than a year without eating and can withstand a wide range of temperatures from nearly freezing to almost 113 degrees Fahrenheit. This increases the difficulty of eliminating them.
Female bedbugs lay from 200 to 500 eggs, attaching them with a glue-like substance. They hatch in about ten days. Though they do not grow larger than a small seed, they go through five nymph stages, each of which requires a single blood meal before molting. They can suck up to six times their weight and feeding takes from three to ten minutes. Bedbugs produce three to four generations within a year’s time.
The NYPMA represents the joining together of the Long Island Pest Control Association, the Association of New York City, and the New York State Pest Management Association.
Leonard Douglen @ 877-521-7378