Bed Bugs On The Rise

Bed bugs appear to be on the rise around the world, as more and more experts and professionals in pest control report huge rises in prevalence, even so far as to suggest we are on the verge of a bed bug pandemic.

The results of the 2010 Comprehensive Global Bed Bug Study conducted by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and the University of Kentucky in the United States found that 95 per cent of respondents said their company had encountered a bed bug infestation in the last year: this compared to only 25 per cent reporting such encounters before 2000. The survey questioned nearly 1,000 US and international pest management companies.

  Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for NPMA, told the press that the study suggests that "we are on the threshold of a bed bug pandemic, not just in the United States, but around the world".

  In Britain earlier this week, the pest control company Rentokil reported a 24 per cent rise in the number of bed bug infestations they have been asked to tackle in the first half of this year.

  A spokesman for Rentokil told the Daily Mail that "bedbugs are becoming more of a pest problem in this country and around the world".

  In 2008, Sydney-based entomologist Stephen Doggett surveyed 121 pest managers across Australia and found that bed bug infestations had gone up by 4,500 per cent since 1999.

  One of the reasons often cited for the rise in bed bugs is the increased amount of travelling that we humans undertake, and the bugs hitch a ride in our luggage. The respondents to the NPMA survey said they thought lack of awareness and precautions and changing pest control products and methods were also responsible for the rise.

  Some scientists also suggest the insects are becoming resistant to pesticides. Doggett told Australia's The Age newspaper that bed bugs have developed a strong resistance to traditional pyrethroid insecticides, and pest controllers now use nearly 1,000 times the concentration they use to kill other insect infestations.

  In the US, bed bugs are infesting homes, hotels, apartment blocks, stores, movie theatres, offices, churches, laundry rooms, college dorms, hospitals, daycare centers, libraries, all forms of transport, and many other places where humans live or come together.

  Bed bugs are easy to spot: you don't need a magnifying glass or sophisticated detection equipment, just the naked eye. In fact visual inspection was the preferred method of respondents to the NPMA survey.

  They are wingless insects, about the same size and colour as an apple seed, and as well as the bed, they like to hide in suitcases, boxes, and shoes, because these are also near their food supply: living humans.

  They are quite elusive: you will probably have to take off the mattress to look for them in the slats or baseboard of the bedframe, or look around the nooks and crannies of the headboard and in the seams and tucks of mattresses and mattress covers and inside duvets and pillows.

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