How Come Bed Bugs Are Back

The Return of Bed Bugs: Why Did The Bedbugs Come Back?

It might be hard to imagine; but the bed bugs were completely eradicated once. However; today, they are back with a vengeance and more American cities are dealing with a bed bug crisis than we care to admit. Many theaters and hotels in New York have had to be temporarily closed down due to the bed bug menace. Thus, bed bugs are causing not just psychological problems to sufferers; they are even harming the economy of great nations. Each year, millions of dollars are estimated to be spent on pest control companies for dealing with bed bug issues. Today, we will try and figure out why the bedbugs have returned.

Bed bugs have been around since centuries

Bed bugs have been around since centuries and the common adage:” don’t let the bed bugs bite” was used to wish a good night’s rest to people who invariably dealt with these pests. During the Second World War, the bed bug nuisance increased several times over thanks to cluttered and unhygienic conditions.After the War was over, pesticides like DDT were used on a large scale thanks to which the bugs disappeared temporarily. However, in the 1970s the FDA and the EPA banned these pesticides since they were considered detrimental to people’s health. Chemicals like chlordane which were also used for keeping bugs at bay were attributed to the extinction of the Bald Eagle. As a result, greener pesticides came to be used. Over time, the bed bugs developed great resistance to these. Today, more homeowners use floggers, bed bug traps and sprays and powders to control bed bugs. However; the bugs are getting smarter and, as their primary requirement is getting a blood meal, they are often not attracted to these substances. Moreover, for them to be effective, the bed bugs have to actually come in contact with these products. Since they tend to hide during the day and only feed at night, this is a difficult ask for most homeowners. Also, failure to follow other precautions invariably causes the bed bugs to come back.

Bed bugs thriving

Entomologist Coby Schal from the North Carolina University has studied female bed bugs extensively and is worried that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. A single female bed bug can lay around 500 eggs to create entire population in a single infestation.

Also, bedbugs do not necessarily hitchhike on humans- they generally only take blood meals for up to 10 minutes and leave. However, they can still get inside our luggage which means that our clothing is certainly not safe. Also, people fail to follow the right precautions when they discarding infested furniture. Many are known to leave bed bug infested mattresses, cabinets, books on the roadside or even sell them at yard sales where unsuspecting bargain hunters pick them up. This spreads the bedbugs from one place to another/

So how can we ensure that bed bugs do not come back?

If you have taken care of a bed bug infestation recently, that is naturally the first step in the right direction. However, you must not breathe easy but must continue to maintain vigilance in order to ensure that the bedbugs have truly left. You must continue to vacuum and de-clutter on a regular basis to remove hiding places for the bugs. Inspect your sleeping areas including the bed’s box springs to keep your bedrooms devoid of bed bugs.

In dark movie theaters, it is often difficult to sight bed bugs. So, if possible, carry a small flashlight to check the place you are sitting. The same is true when you travel or spend a night or two at a hotel. Keep your luggage in the bathroom as that is one area usually free of bed bugs.Next, inspect the room thoroughly. Do not forget to check behind frames, bed-headboard, pillows, corners of mattresses etc. If you spot rust colored stains, call the management and ask for another room. If needed, leave the hotel and move to another one nearby.

House guests could also bring bed bugs into your home unknowingly. Moreover, students returning home for the holidays bring bugs back from their dormitories. To avoid this, get them to leave their luggage outdoors or in the garage where you could heat treat and vacuum them. Next, wash all their clothing in hot water and seal and store them in plastic bags.
People often go into denial that they have bed bugs. So-if you are waking up with bumps and blisters on your arms, legs or back each morning, make sure you have them checked out by a doctor. Bed bug bites are often mistaken for hives, scabies, and mosquito bites etc. Naturally, there are differences and if there are other tell-tale signs of bed bug activity, you know have to start thinking of bedbug diagnosis.

In conclusion

Nearly 88% bedbug infestations around America come back; which means we are looking at possibleinsecticide resistance. Until we are able to create a better solution that kills bed bug populations without harming humans, we must continue taking the integrated pest control management approach alongside careful monitoring and inspection. That is the only way to ensure that bedbugs do not come back ever.

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Can bed bugs come back after extermination ?

Wiki User
February 10, 2011 5:05PM

The simple answer is yes. Most likely you will need the

exterminator to come twice. The first time he will kill the living

bugs. The second time he will kill the babies from the eggs that

hatched. The chemicals that exterminators use do not kill the eggs.

So after the first treatment the eggs are still alive. The

gestation period for bed bugs is about 1-2 weeks. So the

exterminator will need to come back a second time after the they

have hatched. It’s important to have the exterminator come back

before the babies turn into adults and reproduce again. If the

exterminator tells you that he can get rid of them in one treatment

then find a new exterminator. It’s just not true.

It’s hard to say whether or not you will need more than 2

exterminations. It depends on the degree of the infestation, how

well you prepped your apartment for extermination, the skill and

experience of the exterminator and whether or not you live in an

apartment with other affected units. If you do, then it is likely

the bugs will crawl through the walls and come back.

Can Bed Bugs Come Back After Treatment?

Home » Can Bed Bugs Come Back After Treatment?

Can bed bugs come back after treatment?

One of the most common questions we get from customers dealing with a bed bug infestation is: Can bed bugs come back after treatment? The answer is a bit complicated, but the short answer is that yes, technically you can have bed bugs in your house again after receiving treatment. However, the bed bug control treatment performed by our Clegg’s Pest Control teamdoeseradicate all of the bed bugs currently in your home. How can they come back then? Let’s explain.

When you receive bed bug treatment from our experienced Clegg’s team of pest pros, we identify and exterminate the entire infestation currently in your home. Our bed bug specialists are experts in bed bug identification, and we have two bed bug detection dogs on our team to ensure that we find and eradicate every trace of the insects in your home. Therefore, to understand how bed bugs can come back after treatment, we first have to ask the following question:

Where do bed bugs come from?

Most bed bug infestations do not originate in your home. Like an infection or illness, bed bug infestations are contagious! If you have bed bugs in your home or business, it is likely that they were brought in by another unsuspecting person or pet. For example, your home could be 100% clean and free of bed bugs, and then you have a friend visit for the weekend. That friend brings with them a suitcase they usually use for business travel.

Your friend doesn’t know it, but their suitcase contains bed bugs that they picked up in one of the hotels they stay in for work. But, now that infested suitcase is in your home! The bed bugs leave the suitcase and find their way intoyourfurniture or bed, and boom. Now your home is infested. Plus, because adult bed bugs can live a year without feeding, it could be months before you recognize that you may have an infestation, and too much time will have passed to identify the cause, the “patient zero” so to speak. This is part of what makes bed bug infestations so common. You can get them from anywhere, and you may not even know you have them!

Knowing that bed bugs can be brought into your house by other people, we now have the answer to the question…

How can bed bugs come back after treatment?

A properly performed bed bug treatment by a member of our Clegg’s team will ensure that your home or business is free of the insects. However, it is possible thatafterwe rid the property of bed bugs, they can be brought into the property from another place, or by another person. We have had cases before where the owner thought the treatment had been performed incorrectly, but in reality the bed bugs were being repeatedly brought into their home *after* treatment by their own neighbor, or a friend!

It can be easy to think then, that it is impossible to completely free your home from bed bugs. That is not true! If you have bed bugs, or suspect that you have them in your home, call our Clegg’s team at (888) MRCLEGG. Our bed bug treatment plans are highly customizable for your specific situation, and we will quickly and effectively exterminate the bed bugs in your property. After treatment, as a home or business owner, there are some steps you can take to prevent bed bugs, and they don’t include forbidding anyone from entering your house!

How to prevent bed bugs

For a complete bed bug prevention plan, check out our free bed bug guide for your home ! In the meantime, here are some helpful tips for bed bug prevention:

  1. Vacuum your suitcases when returning from travel, especially if you stayed in a hotel or inn. Consider asking guests to check their suitcases before staying for a visit
  2. Think about keeping your suitcase in a large plastic bag during hotel stays
  3. Regularly inspect areas where pets sleep to check for signs of bed bugs, as animals can bring the insects into your home
  4. NEVER bring second hand furniture like beds or sofas into your home, especially mattresses, without having them inspected for bed bugs. As bed bugs can be very difficult to detect without training, consider having one of our bed bug specialists inspect furniture in question before putting it in your home.

Have any more questions, or need to schedule your FREE Bed Bug Inspection? Or, curious about how termites come back after treatment or other pests return? Call or text our team today at (888) MRCLEGG, or fill out an inspection request form online !

Why bed bugs have made a horrifying comeback

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For 60 years, Americans thought they’d vanquished bedbugs forever. They were wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong.

Bedbugs have been a staple of American life since the Mayflower. In 1926, infestations in hotels and apartments had become so common that experts couldn’t recall a time when theyweren’ta problem. People hated being bitten in the night by these pesky bloodsuckers hiding in mattresses, but the bugs seemed impossible to wipe out.

Then everything changed in 1939, when a Swiss chemist named Paul Hermann Muller discovered the pesticide DDT, which proved stunningly effective at killing insects. For decades thereafter, DDT and other chemicals helped keep America’s homes and hotels bedbug-free.

But it didn’t last. Since 2000, a new strain of pesticide-resistant bedbugs has been popping up in the US. In 2009, there were 11,000 reported complaints in New York City alone. In New Jersey, a Rutgers study found, fully 1 in 8 low-income apartments had infestations, with bugs hiding in sofas, beds, and tiny cracks in the wall. Many residents don’t realize anything’s amiss until they wake up in the night with strange bites and rashes. By then, the unwelcome guests can be tough to get rid of.

One of the best recent books about bedbugs is Brooke Borel’sInfested: How the Bed Bug Infiltrated Our Bedroom and Took Over the World(the book was partially funded by the Alfred Sloan Foundation). Last year, I called Borel, a science journalist, to hear more about how bedbugs made a comeback, why they’re so tenacious, and whether we might ever get rid of them again.

Brad Plumer: I’d half assumed bedbugs were a very recent phenomenon, so it was fascinating to see that even the ancient Egyptians were trying to cast spells to ward them off.

Brooke Borel:Yeah, one thing that struck me were the similarities through history. When the bedbug resurgence happened in the last 15 years, we had all these newspaper articles saying, "Oh my god, they’re in the movie theaters, they’re in this place, in that place." But that’s always been the case.

You can go back and read descriptions of old beds with jars around the legs that contained paraffin to ward off bedbugs. That’s just an old-school version of these little traps you can buy today to put under your bed. It’s an old story that’s been repeating itself forever.

BP: There was this 60-year period after World War II where we’d vanquished bedbugs. How did that happen?

BB:A big part of that story happened in 1939, when a Swiss chemist [Paul Hermann Müller] discovered the insecticidal properties of DDT. These were the first synthetic insecticides, and they were way more effective than the natural botanicals or elemental poisons we had been using previously.

Most insects had never experienced this type of poison before — and they were very vulnerable to it. So we were able to knock bedbug numbers down. One key thing about DDT is that it leaves a residue on surfaces for a long time: months, maybe even a year. That was especially effective against bedbugs, because they hide in cracks either during the day or whenever you’re not there to provide food. Earlier sprays might have dissipated or not gotten down into the cracks where the bedbugs were. But DDT leaves a residue, and bedbugs would walk through it in order to come eat.

There might have been other factors in knocking down bedbug numbers, too. Some experts point to different housekeeping practices that emerged after World War II — people were using vacuum cleaners more, and so on. That’s more anecdotal than anything else. Or in the United Kingdom, they were able to reduce bedbug numbers before the war, in the 1930s, because they completely tore down all these tenement buildings and rebuilt them.

Bedbugs crawl around in a container on display during the second National Bed Bug Summit in Washington, DC, February 2, 2011. (Media for Medical/Universal Images Group/Getty Images)

BP: So how did bedbugs make a comeback? It wasn’t simply because we banned DDT in the 1970s, was it?

BB:No. Some people still say the only reason we have bedbugs now is because we banned DDT [after concerns about its threat to wildlife]. But that’s just not true. We would’ve had this problem regardless of the ban. The bigger problem is that bedbugs were becoming resistant to DDT, and that was starting to happen way before the ban occurred.

DDT and other pesticides work on the nervous system of insects — often by screwing with their ion channels and leaving them open so that it fries the nervous system. These new resistant bedbugs were essentially able to close that channel again, so that didn’t happen.

BP: Okay, so some bedbugs evolved resistance to DDT. But how did they become so widespread?

BB:The idea is that pockets of resistant bedbugs evolved somewhere in the world, probably in more than one place. Then in the 1980s and 1990s, you have this huge increase in air travel both domestically and internationally — it got cheaper through the deregulation of airlines in the US and a set of new treaties in the 1990s. That probably helped spread these resistant bedbugs.

The question we still don’t know is where, exactly, the resistant bedbugs came from. One hypothesis is that it started in Eastern Europe. There’s also the idea that resistant bedbugs came from somewhere in Africa because of the use of pyrethroid-impregnated mosquito nets. I think that’s pretty compelling, too. [ Pyrethroids are another pesticide that works by preventing the sodium channels of insects from closing.]

American Museum of Natural History entomologist Louis Sorkin feeds bedbugs on his hand in New York, April 17, 2014. (EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

BP: So what is it that makes bedbugs so tenacious and hard to kill? Is it just this pesticide resistance?

BB:I think it’s the combination of so many things. They’re cryptic insects, and they hide during the day, which makes them hard to detect with the human eye.

But the resistance is definitely a problem. Bedbugs have what’s called a knockdown resistance — it’s the same genetic mutation that gives them resistance to DDT. Separately, there are enzymes called P450s that break down the insecticides more quickly, so that they’re not as toxic to insects. There’s also research that some insects may be growing thicker exoskeletons, making it tougher for insecticides to penetrate.

There are other factors, too. Some people aren’t allergic to them, so they might catch the problem only far later, when it’s become a really bad infestation. Also, bedbugs can spread very easily in cities — because to get rid of them you have to work with other people sharing living space or sharing walls. That can be incredibly difficult.

There’s also a lot of shame involved in having bedbugs. And it’s expensive to get rid of them. So people might initially try to hide the fact that they have an infestation —until it gets worse and worse, and then it’s spilling over to neighbors.

BP: You mention in the book that you’ve experienced bedbug attacks several times. What is it that makes them so hellish?

BB:Before I answer that, I will say the reason I think I’ve encountered them so often is that I’m really, really allergic. Like in this Chicago hotel [where, in the book, she gets bitten], I was staying with a friend, and he didn’t get any bites. But he just might not have been allergic. A lot of people might sleep in beds with bedbugs and not notice at all.

Now, on the psychological part, probably any psychiatrist who has dealt with someone with bedbugs will tell you the same thing.

There is something about the fact that your bedroom is your sanctuary, and you’re also the most vulnerable in your bed, because you’re sleeping. You really don’t get much more vulnerable than that; you’re literally paralyzed. And to have something that’s hiding that you can’t see that comes out and attacks you in your sanctuary, that is just really psychological difficult.

Pestec technician Carlos I. Agurto inspects a couch cushion for bedbugs at an apartment April 30, 2009, in San Francisco, California. Cases of bedbug infestations are on the rise across the US, with many people bringing them into their homes after visiting hotels and airports. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

BP: Why can’t we just invent a new chemical or insecticide to kill these bedbugs?

BB:It’s a pipeline problem, just like the discovery of antibiotics or other drugs or other insecticides. It gets increasingly difficult to find the right chemicals and figure out whether they’re safe enough for us to use.

Bedbugs are especially difficult, because they live in our bedroom, and that’s one of the places we want to be especially careful when it comes to applying insecticides. So that’s part of the issue there.

It’s also incredibly expensive to research and develop the ingredients that go into an insecticide. The estimate for pesticides is something like $256 million per active ingredient over a period of around a decade. And even though bedbugs seem like a big problem, and it seems like you could make money making a bedbug insecticide, it’s not anything compared to the amount of insecticides we use in agriculture. So it’s not necessarily a major focus of the chemical companies.

BP: So what are the best ideas experts have come up with for getting rid of bedbugs?

BB:Keep in mind that there’s a caveat for anything I could possibly say here. I do think heat treatments are very helpful — bedbugs don’t seem to be developing a resistance to those. Basically you heat a room to a certain temperature, and it kills the bugs and the eggs, without chemicals involved.

The caveats, though, are that this is expensive; it can cost thousands of dollars. It’s not necessarily the best approach in an apartment building, because if you only treat one unit, and the neighbors have bedbugs and aren’t taking care of the problem, then you’ve probably wasted that money, because the bedbugs are going to come back.

Then the other problem is that people have been hearing about this and trying to do their own heat treatments. They’ll use a space heater or something inappropriate, and their houses will catch fire. So it’s not for everyone.

Bedbug insecticide products are displayed at the Bed Bug University North American Summit 2010 on September 22, 2010, in Rosemont, Illinois. (Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

BP: You did a lot of reporting on the multimillion-dollar industry that’s sprung up around controlling bedbugs. And you seemed to come away skeptical. Why?

BB:I think that especially in the United States, we’re still in this Wild West era for bedbug control. There are some people who really believe in their products, but their products are bad. You could walk into a store and see a product that says, "Kills bedbugs on contact." To a consumer, that sounds great, but all that means is you have to spray it directly on the bedbug. But bedbugs are often hiding, so that’s not necessarily helpful.

There’s a lot of opportunity to take advantage of people’s fears. Even the Federal Trade Commission has caught wind of this — they had two cases against two companies against products advertised as all-natural contact killers, and they said, "You can’t advertise like this."

BP: Having written the book, what advice would you give for someone who discovered bedbugs in their room?

BB:As far as the psychological stuff goes, I would say it’s going to suck — but don’t panic!

In every city and state, there’s a hodgepodge of rules for who’s responsible financially for a bedbug infestation. So the first step is getting educated on that. If you do rent, your landlord may be legally required to pay for bedbug treatments.

As far as actual treatments go … I have a little section in the book where I say what I would do. It’s not going to be right for every person. Because I’m so allergic, I’d know pretty quickly if I did have bedbugs. So before calling an exterminator, I would try to do all my laundry, do a search and see if I could find the bedbugs and where they’re coming from, clean up, and then see if I was still getting bites. But that’s mainly because I’d be able to tell easily if I was still getting bitten.

But that’s not necessarily right for everyone, and I don’t recommend that for each person. For the most part, I’d suggest people call a professional — though it can be daunting to figure out who’s good.

BP: Do we know if the bedbug problem is getting worse in the United States?

BB:It’s a little tough to say. In general, I don’t think the problem’s getting better; I don’t think there are fewer bugs. I do think people are not freaking out about them as much and are more knowledgeable on how to deal with them.

There’s a survey by the National Pest Management Association, where they interview pest-control people from all over the world and ask how many bedbug cases they had in the last year. And those numbers have continued to rise. Then again, that’s an industry group, and they’ve been making money out of this.

It also really depends on the city. I’m working on an essay about bedbugs in New York City, where numbers show that 311 calls about bedbugs are going down, but those numbers can be deceiving [since a lot of people don’t necessarily make 311 calls when they have bedbugs].

BP: You interviewed a lot of scientists for the book — I loved all the pictures of researchers who raise bedbugs for study by feeding them on their own arms.

BB:Some people still do that, though for a lot of these bedbug research labs they have way too many bugs to be able to do that. One of the fascinating things I learned was that it took a long time for scientists to figure out how best to keep bedbugs alive in the lab, given that they’re so hard to kill in the wild.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Bedbugs: Why They’re Back

Experts Explain Why Bedbugs Are Everywhere Again — and What to Do

Dec. 6, 2011 — For a while, it seemed the bedbug had gone the way of the Edsel automobile and cold water flats. Not anymore — as we’ve learned. They’re back with a vengeance, and experts now seem to know why.

Bedbugs may not get as much play in the media as they did in the summer of 2010, but they are here to stay, experts warned at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) in Philadelphia. New research presented here helps explain why they are back and a lot of it has to do with an ability to outsmart existing treatments.

We saw hide nor hair from these vermin in the U.S. for close to 60 years, but now the number of bedbug infestations in homes, hotel rooms, and the like has jumped 10- to 100-fold since 1990.

What Is a Bed Bug?

Bedbugs are wingless, rust-colored insects. They are about the size of an apple seed. They don’t spread disease, but they do bite and munch on your blood. Their bites can trigger allergic reactions, including welts and itching in some people. Other people may not have any symptoms after a bite.

Part of the reason they are here en masse is their tremendous capacity for inbreeding. Researchers studied bed bugs from buildings in North Carolina and New Jersey and found an uncanny family resemblance among them. This was confirmed in another study of 21 bedbug infestations from Maine to Florida.

Others species don’t survive after inbreeding, but bed bugs don’t just survive, they thrive, says Coby Schal, PhD. He is an entomologist at the North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C. “A single mated female can create a whole new population or infestation,” he says.

"We are just seeing the tip of the iceberg," Schal says. "They are here to stay for awhile.”

But this doesn’t necessarily mean you should avoid movie theaters, hotel rooms, or other places where bedbugs lurk.

“Bedbugs don’t hitchhike on people,” he says. “They are more likely to take a blood meal for five to 10 minutes and leave.”

This means they piggyback on your stuff instead. “You can pick up bed bugs on furniture and clothing,” he says.


Beat BedBugs at Their Own Game

“Movie theaters are dark, so bedbugs are difficult to spot,” Schal says. Don’t skip the blockbuster. Instead, strip down when you arrive home and place all of your clothes in the dryer at high heat for 30 minutes.

“When kids come back from college for Christmas break, take preventive measures if their dorm has been infested,” he says. Put all their belongings in the dryer on high heat or leave them outside in the cold air to chill, as the cold will kill them off too,” he says.

When Schal checks into a hotel room, the first thing he does is take out his flashlight and check the bed, mattress seams, headboard, coffee table, and dresser. “I look in cracks and crevices to see if there is any sign of bedbugs,” he says.

Here’s another tip: “Remove the headboard if it is not too heavy and look behind it,” he says. “Bedbugs don’t like to be disturbed by housekeeping when they make the bed or change the sheets.” That is why they may congregate behind or under headboards, where they are less likely to be disturbed.

Viviana Temino, MD, says that bedbug bites can look a lot like hives and that she is seeing a lot more of them these days. She is an assistant professor of allergy and immunology at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine.

“We have to start to think of bedbugs as possible diagnosis of hives, especially if hives happen at night and in the day you are OK,” she says. Temino was not at the meeting, but reviewed the findings for WebMD.

So, what do you do if you find any bedbugs or bedbug bites?

That is the tricky part, as we are running out of solutions, says Ken Haynes, PhD. He is an entomologist at the University of Kentucky in Louisville. Insecticide resistance is present in 88% of bedbug populations in different parts of the country, he says.

Resistance means that many of the treatments don’t work anymore. Haynes and colleagues are now trying to understand what went wrong and seeing if they can fix it.

Unless and until they get some answers, “we need to have a better scheme for managing insecticide resistance,” he says. Using heat treatment instead of chemicals may play a role.


Ken Haynes, PhD, entomologist, University of Kentucky, Louisville.

Coby Schal, PhD, entomologist, North Carolina State University, Raleigh.

Peter J. Hotez, MD, dean, national school of tropical medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston.

Viviana Temino, MD, assistant professor of allergy and immunology, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 60th annual meeting. Philadelphia, Dec. 4-8, 2011.

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