Bed Bug Infestations Are On The Rise

The resurgence of bed bugs. 

A new survey conducted by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), proves that there is a resurgence of bedbug infestations. According to the survey, 95 percent of respondents indicate that their pest management company has handled a bed bug problem in the past year. Prior to 2000, only 25 percent of respondents encountered bed bugs. Bed bugs don’t discriminate between rich and poor, don’t have a preference for climate or environment, public awareness, education and vigilance are key in detecting and preventing bed bug infestations.”

Where are they?

In the U.S., bed bugs are not just infesting homes and apartments, they’re also in hotels, college dormitories, retail stores, office buildings, places of worship, hospitals, daycares, libraries and movie theaters. Bed bugs may be targeting these facilities directly, or employees and vendors may be bringing in the uninvited guests from home. Bed bugs can be easy to spot: they are the size and color of an apple seed. But they are also nocturnal and elusive by hiding in baseboards, electrical switch plates, picture frames, cubicle dividers and upholstery. Bed bugs feed exclusively on blood, but they don’t need to eat every day  in fact, bed bugs can survive for a year without feeding. After a meal, bed bugs will hide in secluded places for five to 10 days while they digest, mate and lay eggs. Female bed bugs will lay between one and five eggs a day and the eggs will hatch seven to 10 days later, quickly surmounting to a massive infestation. There is a need for education on the proper handling of bed bug infestations, especially in the workplace, says Richard Cooper, co-author of “Bed Bug Handbook” .

“Bed bugs travel on people’s belongings,” says Cooper. “When you have all these homes infested, it’s inevitable that these people will take bed bugs to work and kids will take them to school.” It’s worth noting that bed bug infestations are not related to an environment’s cleanliness, but it is easier to control the situation if an area is clean and kept free of clutter. “In a commercial office, there are no beds or sofas, so bed bugs will make homes in things people store in and around work spaces such as boxes or tote bags, so it’s important to minimize clutter,” says Cooper.

What should you do if you see bed bugs?

Vacuuming, followed by steam cleaning, can help eradicate bed bugs. Vacuuming with a crevice tool can remove accessible clusters of bugs found under desks, on chairs and even walls, says Cooper. However, vacuuming can’t capture bugs hiding deep in cracks and crevices or dislodge eggs. Steam cleaning can penetrate seams of upholstery to kill bugs and destroy eggs. While steam can reach deeper areas, vacuuming is still crucial because it removes the physical evidence of bed bugs, says Cooper. It’s also important to change out vacuum bags immediately after cleaning  sealing them in plastic bags and discarding them in outside containers. If the problem persists, it may be time to hire a professional.