Bed bugs are one of the most abundant and commonly encountered insect pests within homes in all US states, even Alaska. According to a 2018 nationwide survey carried out by officials with the National Pest Management Association, one in five individuals in the US have either fallen victim to at least one bed bug infestation or they know someone who has. The survey also revealed that 97 percent of American pest control companies have addressed bed bug infestations within the last year, and 91 percent of survey respondents stated that infestations are most common within single family homes, while apartment buildings are a close second. Also, nearly 70 percent of pest control professionals surveyed believe that bed bug infestation rates, and the prevalence of bed bugs within infested homes, have been steadily increasing since the pests reemerged in the country around 20 years ago. While bed bugs are certainly pervasive today, the pests were an epidemic in the country a century ago.
Surprisingly, bed bugs have been pests to mankind ever since humans began dwelling in caves in the Mediterranean and Middleastern regions around 65 million years ago. Bed bugs first arrived in North America after they were inadvertently transported to the continent with the earliest European colonists around 500 years ago. The North American bed bug population grew rapidly, and by 1926, it was estimated that ⅓ of all urban homes in the eastern US had been infested with bed bugs, and the affluent and poor were both affected. During this time, nobody realistically expected to avoid bed bugs within hotel rooms and public locations. However, by 1939, the pesticide known as DDT was introduced, and it proved highly effective at killing bed bugs and just about every other type of pest. DDT nearly eradicated bed bugs from the US, and infestations were nearly unheard of during the latter half of the last century. Unfortunately, bed bugs reemerged in the eastern US at the turn of the millennium, and this new crop of bed bug invaders proved to be largely resistant to all pesticide formulations. For the past few years, pest control professionals have effectively eradicated even the most extensive bed bug infestations by exposing the pests to a combination of high-heat and minimal amounts of insecticide.
Have you ever managed to eliminate bed bugs yourself before they proliferated to unmanageable levels?