The bed bug population has long been on the rise – with the ease and cheapness of travel domestically and internationally, bed bugs have also been hitching a ride on our coattails whenever they can, whether it’s to travel from one city to the next or fly across the Atlantic.
This rapid spread was certainly concerning, but then COVID-19 hit us, and the world ground to a stop.
It would make sense that travel restrictions would stem or even stop the spread of bed bugs, especially as so many hotels and other communal spaces were either empty or hyper-vigilant when it came to cleanliness. But did we really see a drop?
COVID-19 and Bed Bugs
COVID-19 forced many of us to stay largely at home, travel plans were canceled, and we stopped meeting up with family and friends. But perhaps one silver lining is that numbers of this pest have reportedly fallen. New York City’s bed bug ranking fell, and entomologists believe that until humans start moving freely again, the numbers will stay low.
Bed bug companies also reported their revenue falling, as people and businesses had less cause to contact them. This wasn’t necessarily entirely due to a lack of bed bugs – many bed bug professionals believe that the desire to continue social distancing was stronger than the need to have an effective bed bug treatment, and so many homes (especially in multifamily units) have repeatedly relied on DIY treatments they could find at local stores. These treatments aren’t completely effective and are often bad for you.
Could we be seeing the back of bed bugs?
While it would be nice to think so, the reality is that they are relatively undetectable, and so they can spread easily from one person to the next before they are detected and killed. They can also live for an entire year without blood, and even the most infrequently visited office likely had one or two people pass through its doors within 2020 and 2021.
In the 1940s bed bugs were almost eradicated by pesticides, but they developed a resistance and people began to realize that spraying such potent pesticides in your residence wasn’t such a good idea.
Bed bugs rose again in the early 2000s when it became easy and cheap to travel almost anywhere. It’s likely that this same resurgence will happen again over the coming years, as we hopefully see international travel open up and become as free as it was just a few years ago.
Are we destined to be stuck with bed bugs?
Yes and no – it’s unlikely we’ll ever completely eradicate bed bugs. They are in the same category as fleas and lice, and they are just so transmittable that it is difficult to imagine there will be a time in the near future when they just don’t exist. That’s not to say we can’t keep the numbers low, however.
If businesses in transport and hospitality keep to a strict bed bug treatment and/or detection regime, they’ll be able to keep bed bug numbers down and stop the spread. If the general population becomes more aware of how to detect bed bugs and how easily they can be treated with heat treatments, we may be able to see numbers stop growing and stay under control.
If you’re interested in learning more about bed bugs, DIY bed bug solutions, or how to find a bed bug professional near you, our site provides a wealth of information on all three. Click here to learn more.