Updated: Oct 31, 2019
They’re, unpleasant, unwelcome and . . . very, very hard to eradicate!
Now, the fact that these blood-sucking ‘vampires’ are so resilient may be good news for some professional pest control companies, but not for the rest of us. After all, no one wants bed bugs in their home or office, right?
So why, with all the various means at our disposal, are bed bugs so hard to get rid of? It’s in the genes!
DDT and Bed Bugs: A History
At one time many people thought that bed bugs were truly a thing of the past. Much of that optimism stemmed from the introduction of DDT in 1939. This new pesticide turned out to be remarkably successful at killing bugs of every description.
The fact is that DDT was so new and so potent that insects had few, if any, defenses and were highly vulnerable to its effects. The result was an enormous reduction in the numbers of all kinds of insects, bed bugs included. What’s more, DDT also remained effective for months after its initial application which, in the case of bed bugs, was particularly lethal, since the residue tended to linger in all those places that bed bugs called home, e.g. cracks, crevices, behind baseboards, dresser drawers, upholstery and drapes, mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, wallpaper, or clutter around a bed, etc.
Of course, it was only some time later that we learned ̶ thanks to the publication of Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking book, Silent Spring, in 1962 ̶ that this ‘miracle’ substance, along with a host of other synthetic pesticides, also created a wide range of environmental problems.
A New Generation of Bed Bugs
People didn’t stop manufacturing pesticides completely, they just did it differently. However, one of the reasons for the ‘return’ of the bed bug had to do with that new approach to the creation of pesticides. Research suggest that by 2000 new strains of pesticide-resistant bed bugs were appearing all over the US.
For example, a recent study by researchers at Rutgers University found that 1 in 8 low-income apartments in various New Jersey cities were infested with bed bugs, even though these apartments had been treated a number of times.