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Which Method Of Bed Bug Control Is Most Effective Today, And Can Bed Bugs Become Resistant To This Control Method?

Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are unique for being the only bloodsucking arthropod pests that rely primarily on human blood in order to survive. Long before humans appeared on earth, bed bugs inhabited caves where they parasitized bats. At some point between 15,000 and 30,000 years ago, humans took up residence in caves, and in response, bed bugs would occasionally feed on human blood rather than bat blood. During this cave dwelling era, bed bugs likely grew to favor human hosts over their usual bat hosts because human blood was easier for the pests to access.

Some of the earliest civilizations documented their experiences with bed bugs including the ancient Egyptians that thrived 3,500 years ago, as well as the Romans some time later. Bed bugs bit Medieval Europeans while they slept on piles of straw within primitive dwellings, and European colonists inadvertently transported bed bugs to the New World during the 1600s. Bed bugs proliferated in the eastern US for centuries, and during the first half of the 20th century, around 30 percent of homes in the US were infested with bed bugs. The introduction of the first official insecticide known as DDT in the 1940s rapidly obliterated bed bugs from infested homes, and by the 1960s, bed bugs had become a distant memory in the minds of Americans.

DDT was banned due to environmental and public health concerns during the early 1970s, but by this time, everyone assumed that bed bugs had long since been eradicated from the country. It was not until the late 1990s that bed bug infestations began to reoccur in the US, and by the turn of the millennium, it was clear that bed bugs were making a comeback in the country. Up until somewhat recently, pest control professionals were unable to perform reliable bed bug control services because the pests had become resistant to most insecticide formulations. Introducing new insecticide formulations for the purpose of bed bug control was avoided in favor of non-chemical control methods in which bed bugs could not develop a resistance.

For the past several years, the pest control industry has been combating bed bugs by means of multiple control methods, most notably high heat treatments supplemented by spot vacuuming and spot insecticide applications. Research has demonstrated that bed bugs are unable to develop a physiological resistance to the fatal effects of high heat. Despite this, surveys of pest management professionals operating throughout the country indicate that bed bug infestation rates are still increasing with each passing year in the US.

Have you encountered bed bugs in public areas since the pests made their comeback in the country?

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