How Bed Bugs Are Caused

The Most Bed Bug Infested Cities in the USA – See How Bad It Is

The bed bug infestation which we thought was over post the Second World War era has actually made resurgence in the 1990s. Today, bed bug cities are a national problem in the United States. The bugs are everywhere: in five star hotels, movie halls, clothing centers and even our daycares and schools. Nearly 95% of pest control management agencies in the country claim to have encountered a bed bug issue.

Bed Bugs: You can run but you cannot hide

When it comes to bed bugs (known asCimex Lectularius), the problem istwofold– not only are they extremely difficult to get rid of; the failure to take necessary safety precautions eases their spread them from one city to another. Hapless travelers are at the greatest risk as they encounter bed bugs in hotels and in airplanes and end up bringing them home through their luggage.

According to a survey conducted byNational Pest Management Association(with inputs from entomologists at The University of Kentucky), the number of bed bug cities in America in this decade are up by 10% as compared to the previous decade and by 25% a decade before that.

It is not only America that is suffering from bed bug infestations: even cities in Australia, United Kingdom, Europe and Africa are also facing them. Many of the pest control operators in these countries also believe that bed bugs are the hardest to get rid of than any other bugs.

According to expert pest management researcher, Clive Boase (who has conducted many pest surveys in United Kingdom), the early 1930s had actually seen a significant reduction in the bed bug issues since more National Housing Schemes came to be implemented; additionally, the home inspection rules for checking for vermin were also made more stringent. Similarly, the United States also enjoyed a brief period in the 1940s where there was significant reduction in these pests. This was mainly due to widespread use of DDT based insecticides. However, the same is not true in this era; the use of chemical control is not feasible for widespread use mainly due to higher costs; additionally, the bed bugs themselves are getting more and more resistant to such insecticides.

The rise of bed bug cities is encouraging Governments to rethink their insecticides. However,three factorshave to be considered before one can actually create a new line of insecticides:

  • They should be safe for use around pets and children.
  • They must be effective in killing bed bugs.
  • They should be economical.

Even DDT, which was effective in the earlier half of the 20 th century, is now no longer effective in killing bed bugs, as resistant strains of bed bugs have been seen in Hawaii, Japan and Korea as well as in Israel, and Iran.

Top 10 Bed Bug Infested Cities in the United States

A survey conducted by a reputed pest management company in 2013 has yielded the following list of bed bug cities in North America:

  1. Cincinnati
  2. Philadelphia
  3. Detroit
  4. New York
  5. Columbus
  6. Los Angeles
  7. Dallas
  8. Chicago
  9. Houston
  10. Baltimore

In addition to these bed bug cities, the following cities in US have also reported an increase in number of bed bug complaints as compared to the year 2012:

  1. Sacrament- An increase of nearly 54%
  2. Milwaukee- Nearly 53%
  3. Las Vegas- 50%
  4. Columbus- 47%
  5. Baltimore- 46%
  6. San Bernardino- 41%
  7. Louis- 40%
  8. Cleveland- 36%
  9. Louisville- 31%
  10. Denver- 28%

What time of the year are bedbugs most common?

In the bed bug cities mentioned above, nearly 49% reported an increase in the number of complaints in warmer months. However, in remaining 51% bed bug cities, the problem was reported throughout the year.

Where are bedbugs seen in the bed bug cities?

Bed bugs are more common in residential dwellings but they are also being reported in schools, offices and shops. Movie theatres are also not spared. Nearly 9 out of 10 pest control professionals report treating single family homes, condominiums and rental apartments.

Here are further statistics regarding bed bug cities in United States:

  • Nearly 75% of infestations are also seen in hotels and motels.
  • 47% of college dormitories reported an infestation.
  • 46% of nursing homes had increases infestations as compared to 2011.
  • Office buildings and schools reported 36% and 41% infestations.
  • Public transport and libraries came in last with 21% and 12% infestations across the country respectively.

Bed Bug Infestation: A bit of good news

A bit of good news in these reports is that the compared to data received in 2011 and 2012, the year 2013 actually saw adecreasein number of bed bug infestations inmovie theatreswhich was down by 10%.Airlinesalso reported fewer infestations, (nearly by 2%) andretailstoreswere down by 21% as compared to 2011.

Why are detection methods not as effective as they were?

Researchers believe that we have more bed bug cities in USA today than ever due to the fact that the bugs have developed genes that help them produce anti-pesticidal substances. Moreover, simply visual observation for detecting bed bugs is no longer reliable; pest control companies are therefore encouraging consumers to use active monitoring traps and pitfalls to detect bed bug presence.

It is an Epidemic

The rise in number of bed bug cities is showing that America is in the midst of a bed bug epidemic. It is therefore essential that complete removal of bed bugs is done using Integrated Pest Management systems that include heat treatment, the use of right products and continuous monitoring. Only this can help prevent infestations so we can reclaim our bed bug cities back.

Got bed bugs?Here are 10 products that can help you get rid of and prevent them.

What Causes Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs aren’t caused by dirt and filth and they’re not a holdover from some deadly plaque from years ago. They exist solely because of us—and they’re out for blood.

The first thing to understand about bed bugs is that their only food source is blood. The common household bed bug needs to feed on human blood both to live and to breed. So what causes bed bugs is essentially… us.

Bed bugs don’t have the ability to leap or fly, so to get close to their food source they hitch a ride on us and our belongings. Once they’ve arrived at their destination, they seek out places where we humans nap or sleep, they hide out, and they wait. Bed bugs are able to sense, by body heat or the carbon dioxide we emit when breathing, when their human host is asleep, then they quietly crawl onto our skin and settle in for a blood meal.

Some of the most common causes of bed bugs are:

  • Travel
  • Population growth
  • Urban living

Akos Nagy/Shutterstock

Why am I hearing more about bed bugs now?

Bed bugs were nearly wiped out in the 1950s by the pesticide DDT. But in 1972, DDT was banned because it was found to be dangerous to humans, wildlife, and the environment. Bed bugs are hardy insects, and the ones that survived did so because they were resistant to DDT (and other pesticides). These super bed bugs kept living and breeding—each female can lay three to five eggs per day and hundreds in her lifetime, depending on conditions.

Their resistance to pesticides combined with increasing ability to spread via global travel, population growth, and urban living contributed to the resurgence that has occurred in the United States. Today, “one out of five Americans has experienced a bed bug infestation or knows someone who has encountered these pests,” says Brittany Campbell, PhD, an entomologist with the National Pest Management Association (NPMA).

Do bed bugs live on people?

No; for the most part, the only time bed bugs are on humans is when they’re feeding, but they do rely on us to get around. “Bed bugs travel with us, so however we may travel, they will travel,” says Jody Green PhD, an urban entomologist at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln.

“They do not have wings or specialized legs for jumping, so they crawl onto our belongings to hitch a ride.” And they’re not picky about their mode of transportation—backpacks, luggage, purses, car seats, wheelchairs, wigs, toys, and sleeping bags are all common forms of transit for bed bugs.

Can bed bugs travel the globe?

Yes, and travel is a big factor in what causes bed bugs. “Global travel has increased exponentially in the last several decades, as it has become cheaper and more accessible for a wider percentage of the population,” says Eric Braun, a board-certified entomologist for Rentokil Steritech, a pest control company. “That has made it much easier for bed bugs to hitchhike and move on personal items, planes, ships, and people.” If you travel a lot, you definitely want to know how to spot bed bugs in your hotel room.

Do bed bugs like cities better than rural areas?

Bed bugs aren’t partial to any particular locale; they will make a home just about anywhere they find us. What causes bed bugs to choose a location is based on how and where humans live. “In the last several decades, North Americans have become increasingly urbanized, moving closer together in cities. The closer we live in proximity to one another, the easier it is for bed bugs to spread,” says Braun.

Akos Nagy/Shutterstock

Can I bring home bed bugs from a thrift store?

It’s hard to pass up a good deal on a nearly new sofa, but before you buy it, consider what could lie in its folds and crevices. “That sofa could harbor bed bugs or bed bug eggs, which might not be observed immediately,” Braun cautions. Be vigilant and inspect furniture thoroughly before bringing it into your home.

How far can bed bugs crawl?

Bed bugs are champion crawlers and move quickly. “Over the course of a night, they could find their way down a long hallway,” says Braun. Plus they can survive without a blood meal for 6 to 12 months, Green says, which is part of the reason they’re so hard to spot and get rid of.

Can bed bugs live in cold climates?

“Climate does not affect bed bugs because they live with us in our homes and we keep it at the optimal temperature for both us and them,” says Green. Do chilly temps kill bed bugs? Only under the right conditions. According to Green, the temperature has to drop to 0°F for four days to kill a bed bug. So bed bugs could survive a while in your car before hitching a ride into your house. That’s why you’ll want to know the telltale signs of bed bugs in your car.

Is getting bed bugs inevitable?

Green offers this helpful analogy: “Think of bed bugs like germs. We carry germs around; they need people to survive, but sometimes we leave germs in places, and other people pick them up and get sick. All people are exposed, everyone can get sick from germs, but not all people do get sick. Not every case is the same, but all cases can be preventable with awareness, communication, and education.” Knowing these 16 secrets about bed bugs will help you to keep them at bay.

What Attracts Bedbugs to Human Environments?

  • B.A., Political Science, Rutgers University

Once considered a pest of the past, bedbugs now make regular headlines as they infest homes, hotels, and dormitories worldwide. As bedbugs spread, more people worry about them and want to know what causes a bedbug infestation.

Though it might seem as if bedbug infestations are on the rise, historical context indicates that bedbugs and other bloodsucking parasites have been associated with humans for thousands of years. Throughout that history, people have endured them feeding on their blood. Bedbugs all but disappeared when people started using DDT and other pesticides to keep insects out of their homes. Although news headlines suggest bedbugs are conquering the world, the reality is that bedbug infestations are still at historically low numbers.

Why are they called bedbugs? Once they settle into your home, they congregate where you spend a lot of sedentary time: chairs, couches, and especially beds. They are attracted to you by the carbon dioxide in the air you breathe out, and you do a lot of breathing over the hours you’re in bed. Then they feed on your blood.

Bedbugs Don’t Care If You’re Clean or Dirty

Contrary to popular belief, there is no association between bedbugs and filth. They feed on human and animal blood, and as long as a source of blood is available to them, they will happily take up residence in even the most pristine home.

Being poor doesn’t put you at greater risk for bedbugs, and having wealth doesn’t immunize you from a bedbug infestation. Although poverty doesn’t cause bedbugs, impoverished communities may lack the resources needed to control infestations, making them more persistent and pervasive in such areas.

Bedbugs Are Excellent Hitchhikers

For bedbugs to infest your home, they have to hitch a ride on someone or something. They don’t usually stay on their human hosts after feeding, but they might hide in clothing and inadvertently go along for the ride to a new location. Most often, bedbugs travel in luggage after someone has stayed in an infested hotel room. Bedbugs may even infest theaters and other public spaces and spread to new locations via purses, backpacks, coats, or hats.

Bedbugs Go Where the Action Is

Since bedbugs travel by hitchhiking, infestations are more common in places with high rates of turnover in the human population: apartment buildings, dormitories, homeless shelters, hotels and motels, and military barracks. Any time you have a lot of people coming and going, there’s an increased risk that someone will carry a few bedbugs into the building. In general, owners of single-family homes have a lower risk of getting bedbugs.

Bedbugs Hide in Clutter

Once in your home, bedbugs scurry quickly to select a new hiding place; in beds and other furniture, behind baseboards, under wallpaper, or inside switch plates. Then it’s just a matter of time before they begin multiplying. A single female may arrive at your doorstep already carrying enough eggs to produce hundreds of offspring. While filth does not benefit bedbugs, clutter does. The more cluttered your home is, the more hiding places there are for bedbugs and the harder it will be to get rid of them.

Bed Bugs FAQs

What are bed bugs?

Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are small, flat, parasitic insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. Bed bugs are reddish-brown in color, wingless, range from 1mm to 7mm (roughly the size of Lincoln’s head on a penny), and can live several months without a blood meal.

Where are bed bugs found?

Bed bugs are found across the globe from North and South America, to Africa, Asia and Europe. Although the presence of bed bugs has traditionally been seen as a problem in developing countries, it has recently been spreading rapidly in parts of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other parts of Europe. Bed bugs have been found in five-star hotels and resorts and their presence is not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions where they are found.

Bed bug infestations usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep. These areas include apartments, shelters, rooming houses, hotels, cruise ships, buses, trains, and dorm rooms. They hide during the day in places such as seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, inside cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, or any other clutter or objects around a bed. Bed bugs have been shown to be able to travel over 100 feet in a night but tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep.

Do bed bugs spread disease?

Bed bugs are not known to spread disease. Bed bugs can be an annoyance because their presence may cause itching and loss of sleep. Sometimes the itching can lead to excessive scratching that can sometimes increase the chance of a secondary skin infection.

What health risks do bed bugs pose?

A bed bug bite affects each person differently. Bite responses can range from an absence of any physical signs of the bite, to a small bite mark, to a serious allergic reaction. Bed bugs are not considered to be dangerous; however, an allergic reaction to several bites may need medical attention.

What are the signs and symptoms of a bed bug infestation?

One of the easiest ways to identify a bed bug infestation is by the tell-tale bite marks on the face, neck, arms, hands, or any other body parts while sleeping. However, these bite marks may take as long as 14 days to develop in some people so it is important to look for other clues when determining if bed bugs have infested an area. These signs include:

  • the bed bugs’ exoskeletons after molting,
  • bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets,
  • rusty–colored blood spots due to their blood-filled fecal material that they excrete on the mattress or nearby furniture, and
  • a sweet musty odor.

How do I know if I’ve been bitten by a bed bug?

It is hard to tell if you’ve been bitten by a bed bug unless you find bed bugs or signs of infestation. When bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from realizing they are being bitten. Most people do not realize they have been bitten until bite marks appear anywhere from one to several days after the initial bite. The bite marks are similar to that of a mosquito or a flea — a slightly swollen and red area that may itch and be irritating. The bite marks may be random or appear in a straight line. Other symptoms of bed bug bites include insomnia, anxiety, and skin problems that arise from profuse scratching of the bites.

Because bed bug bites affect everyone differently, some people may have no reaction and will not develop bite marks or any other visible signs of being bitten. Other people may be allergic to the bed bugs and can react adversely to the bites. These allergic symptoms can include enlarged bite marks, painful swellings at the bite site, and, on rare occasions, anaphylaxis.

How did I get bed bugs?

Bed bugs are experts at hiding. Their slim flat bodies allow them to fit into the smallest of spaces and stay there for long periods of time, even without a blood meal. Bed bugs are usually transported from place to place as people travel. The bed bugs travel in the seams and folds of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothes, bedding, furniture, and anywhere else where they can hide. Most people do not realize they are transporting stow-away bed bugs as they travel from location to location, infecting areas as they travel.

Who is at risk for getting bed bugs?

Everyone is at risk for getting bed bugs when visiting an infected area. However, anyone who travels frequently and shares living and sleeping quarters where other people have previously slept has a higher risk of being bitten and or spreading a bed bug infestation.

How are bed bugs treated and prevented?

Bed bug bites usually do not pose a serious medical threat. The best way to treat a bite is to avoid scratching the area and apply antiseptic creams or lotions and take an antihistamine. Bed bug infestations are commonly treated by insecticide spraying. If you suspect that you have an infestation, contact your landlord or professional pest control company that is experienced with treating bed bugs. The best way to prevent bed bugs is regular inspection for the signs of an infestation.

This information is not meant to be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for consultation with a health care provider. If you have any questions about the parasites described above or think that you may have a parasitic infection, consult a health care provider.

What Causes Bed Bugs in Your Home ?

If you wake up in the middle of the nigh scratching itchy arms and legs, you may have a bed bug infestation. These small, reddish-brown bloodsucking pests can cause a number of health issues if they are not eliminated quickly.

A single bug is no larger than an apple seed. This is why you may not be able to detect them till it is too late. They can remain hidden between cracks, crevices, box springs, the headboard, and any furniture that is near your bed.

Table of Contents

How Do Bed Bugs Get In Your Home?

These pests don’t materialize out of thin air and land on your bed. Bed bugs are notorious hitch hikers – they can get on you and you won’t even realize they are there till they multiply on your bed. Here are some common places where these bloodsuckers can come from:

  • Office buildings.
  • Daycare centers
  • Schools
  • Libraries
  • Nursing homes
  • Police station
  • The theatre
  • Bus depots (from seats)

In fact, bed bugs can also transfer from one person to the next so you aren’t safe even if you avoid the aforementioned locations.

1. Doesn’t Matter If You Are Clean

What causes bed bugs to come? Let’s get one thing straight – no matter how clean you are, you are still susceptible to an infestation from these pesky insects. Their main diet is human and animal blood and they can live almost any place that has a ready supply of either of these. So no matter how pristine your home is and even if you don’t have pets, you may have these bugs.

Even though bed bugs prefer to remain hidden, they venture out when they sense a suitable source of food nearby. These are quite caution though which is why they come out in the middle of the night. Plus, there is a reason why you don’t feel them biting you when you are asleep. When they bite, they inject a weak anesthetic into their host so that they can eat their fill without being noticed.

2. They Are Master Hitchhikers

As mentioned before, for bed bugs to get in your home, they have to hitch a ride on you or anything you are carrying. Normally, they don’t remain on a host after they have fed their fill but they may crawl onto them and ride to a new location.

Needless to say travelers are the ones who are the most susceptible to this. If you stay in a hotel that has a bed bug problem, you will probably take some home with you on your luggage, purse, backpack and coat.

3. They Prefer High-Activity Areas

Since bed bugs travel from one feeding ground to the next by hitching a ride on unsuspecting people, they are usually found in populated areas. This includes shelters, dorms, hotels, apartments, etc.

In other words, if you have a lot of guests coming over for dinner or a party, chances are at least one of them are hiding pesky uninvited guests so to speak. People who live in single family residences are at a lower risk.

4. They Love Clutter

Once bed bugs get in your home, they immediately start searching for hiding places. This can be anything from baseboards and wallpaper to your sheets, under switch plates and especially clutter. This spells bad news for hoarders – the more things you have lying around your home, the harder it will be for you to get rid of them.

Once they find a decent hidey hole, they spare no time multiplying and they do this quite fast. In fact, a single female can lay over hundreds of eggs at a time. With a ready food source and isolation, it can produce eggs as many times as it needs.

5. They Can Be Found In Second Hand Furniture

If you prefer to buy furniture second hand, chances are you will get more than you bargained for. If it comes from a home that is infested with bed bugs, it will definitely have a few that can infest your home as well. This also includes rented furniture which is not deep cleaned and inspected for pests after it is returned.

Unfortunately, isolating an infested piece of furniture may not resolve the problem. Bed bugs can survive for months without feeding after all.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes bed bugs and how to get rid of them?

To summarize, bed bugs are caused by clutter, infested furniture and travel. Here are some ways that you can prevent an infestation and/or get rid of them:

  • Be diligent when you are traveling. When you are staying at a hotel, place your bag on your suitcase, not on the floor or the bed. Plus, keep it away from the furniture and the walls.
  • Before purchasing new or used furniture, examine it for bed bugs by lifting the seams, cushions and tufts.
  • Vacuum your home frequently
  • Cover all power outlets. Bed bugs hide in the holes during extermination and come out when the coast is clear.
  • Store clothing in vacuum sealed bags while traveling. This will prevent these pests from hitching a ride on you all the way back to your home.

How do I know that my home has bed bugs?

  • You see small, red bumps on your skin that itch when you get up in the morning.
  • You see blood stains on the sheets.
  • You see black droppings on furniture, in crevices, in your bed and in cracks.
  • You notice a musty odor in your home
  • You see dark spots on the walls.
  • You see bed bug shells (white, husk-like specks) on your mattress.
  • You see small, white spots in the furniture.

I have a bed bug problem. How do I control it?

  • Get rid of clutter and clean up your home.
  • Move the bed well away from the furniture before treating it.
  • Wash infested sheets, pillows, blankets etc and dry it in a hot dryer for at least half an hour. This should kill the eggs as well. After that, consider using spring and box spring covers to prevent re-infestation.
  • Seal all openings such as cracks and crevices especially where the pipes and wires are located.
  • Remove all the drawers from a dresser to search for the bugs and pull it away from the wall to block escape routes.
  • To dislodge eggs, scrub infested areas with a stiff brush and then vacuum the room extensively. A vacuum hose attachment will be effective especially in cracks and small holes. Since bed bugs latch on tightly, use the nozzle of the vacuum to scrape them lose and then suck them up.

How do I use pesticide to eliminate bed bugs?

Only use pesticides if the infestation is too large to manage. Plus, make sure to use a product that is made specifically for eliminating it such as Temprid FX. Follow the directions that are mentioned on it carefully. Use only the amount that is prescribed and place it in a spray bottle.

Spray the pesticide in areas where bed bugs are usually found such as in corners, around thresholds, and window frames, under the furniture, the bed and furniture legs, the edge of carpets and baseboards, etc. Whatever you do, do not spray an entire carpet or floor and allow it to dry on areas that you do spray before removing dead bugs.

What health risks do bed bugs carry?

Bed bugs affect each person differently. Some people may not even see any red spots or signs of an infestation on their body while others may either get small, red and engorged marks on their body or a full-on allergic reaction which may require medical aid. The worst case scenario may be burning and an anaphylactic reaction. Some people may also suffer from insomnia if they know that their bed has bugs in it for fear of being bitten.

How do I prevent bed bugs from returning after cleaning them out?

Even if you evacuate your home, some bugs may return and feed off other pests such as rats and mice. In other words, make sure that you get rid of them as well as the bugs at the same time.

How do I prevent an infestation after returning home from a vacation?

  • When you get home from a vacation, take your luggage into the garage or any area that is not near your home and shake out everything in it.
  • Place all of the clothes in your luggage in a plastic bag and wash them separately in the washing machine even items that you never wore during your trip. Use hot water for this.
  • Vacuum your empty suitcase from the inside out thoroughly and dump the contents outside. Take extra precautions by rubbing the suitcases with rubbing alcohol. Apply it to a cotton ball and rub it around the crevices and cracks.
  • Items that should not be washed can still be treated. For example, you can leave the shoes you used in your travels out in the sun for a couple of days to drive out any bed bugs in it.

If you see a single bed bug, chances are there are more behind it hiding in your home. Take the threat seriously by taking the mentioned preventative/elimination measures and you will be free of the pesky critters in no time.

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