Where do bed bugs come from?

Bed bugs are a huge problem worldwide, and particularly in the US right now.   Bed bug reports have been in a growth pattern over the past 10 years, that doesn’t seem to be slowing down.  In fact, in high population areas of the country, bud bug reports are growing at an alarming rate.

But where did all of these bugs come from?  Why the sudden insurgence?   Are they new?   Let’s take a look and see, just where do bed bugs come from.

Where do bed bugs come from?

Where do bed bugs come from?

Documentation about bed bugs, goes back about as far as there is documentation.  Bed Bugs have been dated back as far as the first century, and seem to originate from tropical climates as far as experts can tell.  But here’s the real problem: Bed bugs are excellent travelers.  They travel on luggage, clothes, handbags, backpacks and frankly anything else a traveler might carry with them.

Another factor that plays into their ability to travel, and stay alive, is they don’t eat often.  Most bed bugs eat only once a week, and if necessary they can last up to a year without eating.   In other words, they can travel for long periods of time without needing to eat.

Their near death and resurgence

As a result of their extreme travel ability, bed bugs have spread from initially tropical climates to worldwide.  Bed bugs have continued to pose a problem in non-US countries, but were nearly eliminated in the US during the 1940s using the popular and potent chemical DDT.  DDT was found on most everything back then, including carpets, beds, and clothing.   DDT was highly effective at killing bed begs, but it didn’t completely eradicate them.   Bed bugs still continued to plague Americans and others worldwide.

About 10 years ago, give or take a few years, bed bug reports started to significantly increase, and kept increasing.   Unfortunately today, reports of bed bug infestations are at an all time high.  Bed bugs came back with a vengeance, but why?

Experts agree on a number of factors for the sudden resurgence in the US, and their continued growth Worldwide:

  • Increase in domestic and worldwide travel
  • Ban on use of DDT in the US and other countries
  • Bed bugs have developed a resistance to many current pesticides.
  • Increased growth in group housing such as apartments and condos

Bed bugs also reproduce like rabbits, and they don’t really care who they mate with – their mother, father, sister….well you get the picture.  Studies have shown that whole infestations of bed bugs can be started with just two bed bugs, and very quickly too.  They are very similar to cockroaches in this capacity, they can interbreed with low risk of genetic deformations.

Bed bugs are here to stay

Experts also agree that it is doubtful we’ll see a near eradication of bed bugs ever again.   While the today’s various treatment methods certainly put a dent in the number of reports, they will never resolve the issue completely.   Bed bugs reproduce far too quickly, can live just about anywhere, travel far too well, and have become very immune to chemicals.  Those factors combined, make for a tough enemy.

With that said, all is not doom and gloom either.  There are some very effective treatment strategies available today, and more are being developed.  Three of the most effective are strategies available today are:

  • Heat treatment – This strategy uses a heating device to “cook” the bed bugs.  This is probably the most effective treatment method available right now.
  • Steam Treatment – Also highly effective, especially at killing the bugs you can’t see hiding in your mattress, walls, furniture and carpet.
  • Diatomaceous Earth – All natural, inexpensive, and kills bed bugs dead.  It also has the advantage of spreading from one bed bug to another.

Of course, as the old saying goes, “the most effective offense, is a good defense”.   The best way to keep bed bugs out of your life is to practice good Bed bug Prevention and Detection strategies.   If you can keep bed bugs from entering your home or business in the first place, you won’t have to worry about treating them.  Easier said than done of course, but it is possible.

Bed Bugs and The Social Stigma

One of the biggest threats to us from bed bugs is our reluctance to talk about them.  There is a false stigma, that people with bed bugs are dirty, unhealthy or unclean.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Bed bugs do NOT discriminate, and can be found in the dirtiest and poorest places, to the cleanest and most wealthy.

While they don’t want you to know it, bed bugs have been found in 5-start hotels worldwide.  They’ve been found and reported in million dollar mansions, and in some of the most rundown apartments in the “bad sides” of New York city and Chicago.

One of the most important things we can do to reduce the spread of bed bugs is talk about them.  We need to tell people when we have them, be open about the issues, share prevention, detection and treatment methods.

One of the key reasons bed bugs continue to spread is a because people are ashamed to tell other people they have bed bugs.   This causes people to be comfortable with visiting infected homes, sleeping at infected homes, and staying at infected businesses.  I get it, it’s embarrassing, but it shouldn’t be.  But out of respect for others, we need to communicate, and those of us that don’t have bed bugs need to be empathetic and not judgmental of those that do.

Talking about being bed bugs and being honest about our situation will go a long way to reducing the spread, and increasing everyone’s awarenes.

Image Credit: Sundazed

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