Bed Bug History – Where Did They Come From?

I know most of us would be quite content if bed bugs were extinct today, but the fact of the matter is, bed bugs are one of the strongest species on Earth and I don’t think they are going anywhere, anytime soon.

Even though there is not a specific time or origin when bed bugs were first discovered, they have been seen in ancient writings and it is believed they have been around as long as humans. Bed bugs were known as a “pest” in the 17th century.

Bed bugs traveled to the Americas on board ships used by the immigrants. Every time more colonists arrived, a new wave of bed bugs came with them.

In the 40’s and 50’s the US used the first known pesticide, DDT, which was developed early during World War II to help stop the spread of malaria, typhus and other infectious diseases by killing the mosquitoes and other insects that spread disease.

DDT was not only used in the military but became a common product used everyday by people virtuallly everywhere in America. DDT became readily available and was even used in agriculture as an incecticide. Eventually, in the middle of 20th century, you hardly ever saw a bed bug as they had nearly become extinct due to the popularity of DDT.

It’s unfortunate that bed bugs did not die out completely, and over the last few years have acutually staged a strong comeback. North America has seen a tremendous growth of bed bugs in the last 10 years or so.

So Why Are Bed Bugs Coming Back?

DDT and other similar products were banned after being found to be harmful to the human population which poses a problem for those trying to get rid of bed bugs. Many of the insecticides used today are just not effective at killing bed bugs. Bed bugs are just as hard to get rid of as cockroaches. The truth of the matter is, there is not a 100% guaranteed method to get rid of bed bugs!

The banning of the use of DDT is not the only reason these pesky critters have made a comback over the years. Because of the health risks associated with using DDT, many products used today have a much lower toxicity level than the ones used in previous years and bed bugs have learned to adapt to many of the incecticides and have become nearly immune to them.

Alot of the incecticides used today to treat bed bugs are gel based and the fact is, none of these common types of incecticides have much effect, if any, on bed bugs.

The Use of Feeding Traps

Bed Bugs are not the only insects that have developed immunity to certain chemicals so the use of feeding traps are very effective for getting rid of these types of insects. They are designed to lure the insect into the trap by a certain smell that they think is food and when they carry the bait back to their colony they poison the entire colony. This is a very effective way to kill ants and other insects, but it does not work for bed bugs. Why? because the bed bugs main source of food is human blood, so food traps do not interest them.

There has been a lot of talk about the bed bug in the last few years, mainly to educate those that have potential for exposure to bed bugs. Because they have not been around heavily since before the 1940’s, many people don’t even know what a bed bug is, or what they are capable of. Statistics show that 50 states have now reported bed bug infestations.

There is an advocacy group in the United States called the Professional Pest Management Association that is providing a campaign for information to be presented to the general public to educate them about possible infestation.

It is important to know the histroy of the bed bug so that we can learn from past mistakes. With bed bugs, it is helpful to know where they lived, how they spread as well asthe impact they had on the public. By looking at the use of DDT and other chemicals, we can better understand what will work to kill bed bugs, but we can also see the effects of harmful products on the human population as well. As you look at the past of the bed bug, take note of the likely future. It has been shown that bed bugs are likely to continue their growth, hence more infestations are apparent. With more and more people traveling from place to place, it is even more likely that the bed bug will continue to spread.

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