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Bed Bugs: Q & A

By Chris Williams on November 10, 2010.

Q. I thought we had gotten rid of bed bugs 50 years ago! Why are they back and where have they been?

A. It’s true that we always thought of bed bugs as a pest of our grandparents, or even great-grandparents era. Not anymore.

About 60 years ago, bed bugs were eliminated in the U.S. as a major public health nuisance by the introduction of DDT and other new pesticides, and by improvements in sanitation, changes in laundry practices, and the introduction of widespread vacuuming. But bed bugs never really left. They have always been around in low levels in certain distressed settings such as homeless shelters, worker camps, and military bases. Bed bugs have remained chronic pests all along in some third world countries.

Pest control experts will tell you that there is no one answer as to why bed bugs are enjoying a resurgence in the U.S., and other developed countries. It’s a combination of things that have all come together to create the “perfect storm.”

Increased air travel. Air travel has become relatively inexpensive. Travelers to exotic locations pick up bed bugs and carry them home in their luggage. Now that they are again common in the U.S., bed bugs are regularly disseminated by travelers from gateway cities such as New York, Chicago, and Boston to new sites throughout the country.

Change in pest control methods. In the last 25 years, pest control service has gradually moved away from general spraying of pesticides in homes to the use of baits that are aimed only at specific pests like cockroaches. Therefore, there is no pesticide residue left behind to kill other pests as there was in the past.

Increase in secondhand merchandise. As antique markets, flea markets, yard sales, thrift shops, and the use of rental furniture become more popular, purchasers may be bringing home bed bugs as well.

Poor recognition. Being a relatively new pest today, most people do not recognize bed bugs, their bites, or the signs of their infestation. And, bed bugs lead a secretive lifestyle that allows them to remain undetected, sometimes for months.

Difficult to control. Bed bug control is a real pest control challenge, not only for the reasons mentioned above, but because they are very difficult to find since they hide in cracks and crevices during the day. Bed bugs are difficult to eradicate, but not impossible. At Colonial Pest Control we have developed new bed bug treatment protocols that really work! Our technicians take the time to discreetly and thoroughly inspect and service your home. Call us today so that you can get a good night’s sleep, free from bed bugs!

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