The last two decades have seen a resurgence of bed bugs and they are a big problem; a problem that should not be ignored. Lack of education among people regarding these critters is leading to their widespread. Additionally most home owners facing a bed bug problem tend to ignore it. They believe that simply using over the counter bed bug sprays, powders etc and/or discarding infested items, mattresses and furniture is enough to get rid of these pests once and for all. However; that is not true. Bed bug eggs and larvae can survive for many days, even months and years without a blood meal. They hide in cracks and crevices and are extremely difficult to find and get rid of. Furthermore; they are becoming increasingly resistant to common household pesticides as a result of which they are a big problem growing and spiraling out of control.
Bed Bug Bites: A worldwide pandemic
In the United States, bed bugs are causing more and more homeowners to call in professional integrated pest control services. At least 25 major cities in the country have been officially enlisted as “bed bug zones”. One of the worst affected metros in the country, New York City, has even had some of its shops, famous lingerie outlets and hotels closed down due to this big problem. The infestation is so severe that the government is asking landlords to disclose it to their potential tenants. Even schools have to compulsorily inform the students ‘parents about the outbreak.
In London, and several other countries and cities in Europe, more pest control companies are being called in to exterminate these pests than that in the early 1990s. The bedbugs’ propensity for human blood is leading to bed bug bite rashes that are extremely itchy and painful. Many Europeans are unable to sleep at night due to bed bug bites causing anxiety, inability to concentrate in work, and other health related problems.
In Australia, two major species of bed bugs, namely Cimex lectularius, and the Cimex hemipterus are known to cause big problem to homeowners. In majority of Australian towns, bed bug bites have led to closure of commercial accommodations and also lowered the guest turnover in hotels, motels and B&Bs. Moreover, guests who sleep in such infested hotels also tend to innocently bring back the bed bugs home through their luggage. Thus, bed bugs have become a big problem owing to the fact that they easily spread to wider parts of developed communities and are increasingly being seen in trains, charter boats, buses, airplanes etc. In low housing areas, the bed bug problem is so unmanageable that a single infestation is known to have 10s of thousands of bedbugs.
Dermatological problems arising from bed bug bites
The main reason why bed bug bites are a big problem is owing to their resurgence due to resistance to DDT. The bites are causing severe allergic reactions in many people. The mouthparts of bed bugs are specially designed to bite and pierce the human skin. Additionally the bugs ‘saliva also contains anticoagulant protein that keeps the blood from clotting for ease of sucking. In a single feeding, one bed bug can suck blood from its host for nearly 10 minutes. People who are allergic to this bed bug protein produce histamine to counter the foreign body. This leads to painful itchy welts on the skin that can even turn into blisters and pus filled rashes. Often, these skin conditions require antibiotics or topical steroids for healing.
Big problems: mental and physical
The EPA or The Environmental Protection Agency has termed that bed bug bites are a big problem and that their “alarming resurgence is leading to disturbing physical and mental symptoms”. Up until now, bed bugs have been considered mythical creatures; people have often joked about them or simply used them in nursery rhymes to warn children about their bites. However, societies and governments are awakening to the seriousness of this problem and not laughing any more. Bed bug infestations come with several issues: sleeplessness, constant anxiety, expense of extermination, apart from the associated social stigma. All this can lead to extreme emotional distress which is no laughing matter.