Bed Bugs Make A Return
For adults who are a part of the “Baby Boomer Generation,” or the subsequent “Generation X,” you may remember a unique period in time for the pest known as the bed bug. For decades, this insect was almost a non-factor in pest control, even here in Maryland. We had issues with mice and rats, and of course, termites and ants, but there was a very long stretch, practically a generation, where it seemed like bed bugs had gone away.
Today, of course, it’s a different story. Millennials and the new generation of Americans now grow up in a world where not only have bed bugs have always been around, it can be a major source of concern. All it takes is a few bad online reviews, for example, stating that a hotel has bed bugs, and all the potential guests will be driven away, and not consider staying at that hotel.
So what happened? Why are bed bugs back now, and why did they ever go away in the first place? The answer to that is tied to the history of pest control in America.
Effective But Not Safe
During WWII, a chemical was discovered that appeared to have no obvious, harmful effects to humans in small amounts, but proved to be absolutely lethal to insects in small amounts. It also remained active for weeks, which meant that, combined with the fact it was synthetic, it was cheap to produce, easy to produce, and efficent to produce since one application lasted so long. It was called DDT, and was used generously throughout America to kill everything from roaches to the bed bugs that had made some homes and hotels uncomfortable places to stay.
Because of the effectiveness of DDT, bed bugs were pushed to the very margins of human spaces. Beds sprayed with DDT were killing fields for bed bugs who inevitably died once they entered the bed, and continued to die for weeks or months afterwards, eventually causing them to retreat from urban spaces.
However, as with tobacco and alcohol, the short term benefits of DDT usage were eventually found to have profound, negative, long term effects. Everything from increased breast cancer in women, to nervous system and liver damage were eventually attributed to long term exposure to DDT. The substance was finally banned from large scale use in the USA in 1972, but before that, it had been heavily in use throughout the country for decades.
Because more environmentally friendly pesticides didn’t linger in spaces the way DDT did, this eventually made it possible for bed bugs to make a careful, gradual return to human spaces. Hotels and homes, once protected by a chemical barrier that was unhealthy for everyone, were once again approachable.
So on the one hand, pest control experts in Maryland and many other states around the country are much more responsible with their usage of chemicals than our predecessors. One the other hand, bed bugs have taken advantage of this. So if you have bed bugs, call us for professional, safe help to deal with the problem.