FAIRFAX, Va.- A new survey conducted by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and the University of Kentucky, confirms what pest management professionals across the U.S. and around the world have been seeing in the field – bed bugs are back in a very big way, with 95 percent of U.S. survey respondents indicating that their company has encountered a bed bug infestation in the past year. Prior to 2000, only 25 percent of U.S. survey respondents encountered a bed bug infestation.
“Because 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.”
“The results of the 2010 Comprehensive Global Bed Bug Study suggest that we are on the threshold of a bed bug pandemic, not just in the United States, but around the world,” said Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for NPMA. “Because 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.”
In the U.S., bed bugs are infesting homes, apartments, hotels, retail stores, offices, places of worship, college dorms, hospitals, daycares, libraries, modes of transportation, movie theaters, laundry facilities and other places where humans live and gather.
If the public knows what to look for, bed bugs can be easy to spot. In fact, visual inspections are the preferred method of determining if a bed bug infestation exists according to survey respondents. Bed bugs are the size and color of an apple seed, like to travel and will hide in suitcases, boxes and shoes to be near a food supply. They are elusive, nocturnal creatures, and beside the mattress and headboard, they can be found behind baseboards, electrical switch plates, picture frames, wallpaper, upholstery and in furniture crevices. They come out at night for a blood meal.
The findings of the 2010 Comprehensive Global Bed Bug Study, are based on responses from nearly 1,000 U.S. and international pest management companies. Here are several key survey highlights:
1. Professional pest management companies have experienced an 81 percent increase in bed bug calls since 2000. While, there is not one clear answer for the resurgence of bed bugs, the majority of respondents cited increased travel and movement of people from across town and around the globe, lack of societal awareness and precautions, and changing pest control products and methods.
2. Bed bugs are a much greater problem in urban and suburban areas with larger populations of people who live close together and interact in enclosed spaces on a regular basis. Because of the bed bugs’ ability to “hitchhike” on people and their belongings, these living environments will continue to see higher infestation occurrences than those living in rural areas. According to the survey, 52 percent of pest management companies report treating bed bug infestations in rural areas compared to 71 percent in urban and 80 percent in suburban areas.
3. Bed bugs are THE most difficult pest to treat, according to 76 percent of survey respondents, more so than cockroaches, ants and termites. As for where infestations occur, residences top the list with 89 percent of pest professionals treating bed bug infestations in apartments/condos and 88 percent treating bed bug infestations in single-family homes. Respondents also report other common areas, with 67 percent treating bed bug infestations in hotels/motels, 35 percent in college dormitories, 9 percent on various modes of transportation, 5 percent in laundry facilities, and 4 percent in movie theatres.
4. Although bed bugs are not known to transmit disease to humans, their bites do leave itchy welts on human skin and can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Additionally, the emotional and mental toll of experiencing a bed bug infestation can be severe and should not be taken lightly. Survey respondents report that 99% of clients who have had bed bugs were “upset and concerned” and 77% said such customers were “very upset and concerned.”
For more information about bed bugs visit the Bed Bug Hub, NPMA’s resource on everything bed bug related, from prevention tips to current news.