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How Bed Bugs Rapidly Adapt To Survive Insecticides, And How The Pest Control Industry Has Mastered Bed Bug Control

Bed bug infestation cases have been increasing rapidly all around the world, especially in the United States. Bed bugs were nearly eradicated during the middle part of the last century, but the pests reemerged around the turn of the millenium. Bed bug infestations are notorious for being difficult to eradicate, and infestations have forced people to discard valuable infested items, such as mattresses, bedding, clothing and furniture. Furthermore, bed bug infestations are often harrowing for those who experience them, and lasting psychological trauma can result from living with infestations. While bed bug infestations continue to be a challenge to eradicate today, recently developed integrated pest management strategies have proven effective at ridding homes of bed bug pests.

The bed bugs that exist today are very different from the bed bugs that your elders may have encountered several decades ago, as modern bed bugs have evolved physical features that make them particularly difficult to exterminate. An overreliance on insecticides for bed bug extermination in the past has made bed bugs resistant to most traditional insecticides. Bed bugs are resilient creatures, and much like how cockroaches evolved to withstand insecticides, modern bed bugs possess bodily features that protect the pests from the toxins in insecticide solutions. For example, genetic researchers have discovered 14 genetic mutations in modern bed bugs that all allow them to survive insecticides. These mutated genes are associated with the bed bug exoskeletons. Specifically, these mutations made bed bug exoskeletons thicker, thereby preventing insecticides from reaching nerve cells.

Amazingly, rapid adaptations of this sort have never been documented as occurring in any other insect pest species. Today, however, a number of different methods are undertaken to eradicate bed bugs from homes. These methods include vacuuming, washing bedding at a high temperature and using steam or heat treatments. Over-the-counter bed bug control products exist, but research has found them to be ineffective, but pest control professionals are licensed to use specialized chemicals that successfully kill bed bug pests. For serious bed bug infestations, a combination of non-chemical treatments, like heat, and a minimal use of insecticide effectively and permanently eradicates active bed bug infestations from homes.

Have you ever attempted to eradicate bed bugs on your own with over-the-counter insecticide?

 

 

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Bed Bugs Or Fleas?

Some people find joy in locating and handling certain insects, but nobody finds joy in handling insects that suck blood in order to survive. There exists a plethora of insect and arachnid species that suck blood. These arthropods include ticks, mosquitoes, fleas and bed bugs. Surprisingly, bed bugs are unique among blood-sucking insects in that they do not transmit any diseases to humans, but they do leave visible welts that itch like crazy. Generally, people have no problem discerning a mosquito bite from a flea or bed bug bite, but it can be hard to tell the difference between flea bites and bed bug bites. Both fleas and bed bugs inflict numerous bites on humans, but they are rarely caught in the act of sucking blood due to their tiny body size and nocturnal feeding habits. Fleas and bed bugs both inflict welts that look identical, and the bites that each insect leaves result in similar degrees of itchiness. Waking up with bug bites all over one’s body is unpleasant enough without having to stress over not knowing which type of bug caused the itchy welts. Bed bug bites are commonly mistaken for flea bites and vice verse, but there does exist notable differences between the types of injuries that each insect inflicts.

Bed bugs and fleas are similar in that they both survive solely by feeding on the blood of mammals. Bed bugs prefer to feed on human blood while fleas prefer the blood of furry mammals. However, fleas find human blood perfectly acceptable and they will not pass up an easy source of blood just because it comes from a human. Fleas and bed bugs are nocturnal, which means that both prefer to bite humans while they sleep. This makes it very difficult for a person to determine which insect is responsible for bite injuries. However, a sharp observer can spot differences between fleas and bed bugs easily by watching how the insects infesting their home move about. Fleas can jump long distances while bed bugs slowly crawl. Bed bugs are also larger than fleas. Flea bites also tend to be clustered together in one area of the body while bed bug bites are more scattered across the body. Of course, the most important difference between fleas and bed bugs is that only fleas can transmit disease to humans. These diseases include the plague, typhus, and cat scratch disease.

Have you ever discovered several bug bites that you had no memory of receiving?

 

 

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How Bed Bug Populations Reached Epidemic Levels

How Bed Bug Populations Reached Epidemic Levels | Bed Bug Control Phoenix Bed Bug Control

If there is one person who can answer all of your bed bug questions, then it would be author Brooke Borel. Borel writes for Popular Science Magazine, and she has conducted her own research on the behavior and biology of bed bugs. Most of her research focuses on what attracts bed bugs to humans. In addition to studying bed bugs, Borel has recently had a book published that describes the blood sucking creatures in detail; she has also experienced bed bug infestations herself. Recently, during an interview on National Public Radio, Borel described why bed bugs disappeared for several decades only to later return stronger and more resilient than they had been before before.

During the 1940s, scientists developed one of the first synthetic insecticides. This insecticide is now banned, but it was known as DDT, and it successfully destroyed bed bug populations, as well as many other insect species. During World War II, DDT was used by the Americans and British to fend off mosquitoes that carried malaria, as well as typhus-carrying lice. After the war, DDT became available to both pest control professional and consumers. People would often spray the chemical all over their homes, and DDT was included in many wallpapers, varnishes and paints. The widespread use of DDT during this time cannot be overstated.

DDT was so effective at killing bed bugs, the generations born after World War II had not even heard of the insects, as they had been virtually wiped out. This meant that pest controllers did not know how to treat bed bug infestations when the bugs resurfaced decades later. Bed bugs were so rare during the mid to late twentieth century that most professional entomologists had never been educated about bed bugs. According to Borel, to this day, experts cannot conclusively determine how bed bugs reappeared as aggressively as they did following several decades of inactivity. Many scientists believe that there had always been small pockets of bed bugs that had slowly adapted to survive DDT and other insecticide treatments over the course of several decades. However, this does not explain why bed bug activity was nearly nonexistent for so many years. Some believe that the spike in international travel that occurred during the 1980s led small pockets of surviving bed bugs to spread to urban areas all over the world by hitchhiking on travelers.

Do you believe that researchers are getting close to developing a revolutionary new insecticide that will work as effectively as DDT initially did during the middle of the twentieth century?