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The Buzz on Bed Bugs in America

Most people are aware by now that bed bugs have made a big comeback across America. The National Pest Management Association released the results of a new “Bed Bugs in America” survey this month to shed more light on the subject.

The survey found that one out of five Americans has dealt with a bed bug infestation at home or knows someone who has encountered these hardy and secretive pests. Once eradicated in the United States with the help of the pesticide DDT, the little hitchhikers are believed to have made their way back in the clothing of international travelers. Unfortunately, today’s versions are much more chemical resistant than their predecessors, making bed bug pest control a challenge.

The resurgence of bed bugs was first noticed by pest management companies, who went from receiving 1-2 calls a year to 1-2 calls a week. Here’s a look at what America has to say about the re-infestation:

All 50 states have reported bed bug infestations. Nineteen percent of survey respondents who live in the West said they have encountered bed bugs, along with 17 percent in the Northeast, 20 percent in the Midwest and 20 percent in the South.

Bed bug encounters are three times higher in urban areas – most likely due to factors such as a larger population, apartment dwelling and more mobility, all of which can help bed bugs spread and thrive.

Concern about bed bugs is on the rise. Nearly 80 percent of survey respondents said they are wary of bed bugs in hotels, and more than half are concerned about picking them up while using public transportation. Other areas of concern include movie theaters, retail stores, medical facilities, places of employment and friends’ homes.

Americans are changing their behavior in response to the infestation. When traveling, 27 percent have washed or inspected their clothes after a trip, 25 percent have checked their hotel rooms for bed bugs and 12 percent have changed or canceled travel plans out of concern about the pests. Additionally, 40 percent of those who know someone with an infestation said they avoid entering the person’s home, and 33 percent discouraged the person from entering their own home.

Misconceptions about bed bugs still abound. Nearly half of the people who responded to the survey still believe bed bugs transmit disease, 29 percent think they are more common in lower income households and 37 percent continue to believe the pests prefer dirty homes – all of which are untrue.

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