As if the news on bed bugs isn’t alarming enough, some entomologists in North America are predicting an increase in bed bug incidents for 2014. They’re suggesting we need more awareness on the subject, and more focus on the so-called “war against bed bugs ”. Even worse, the experts are asserting that the current wave of infestations have not reached their peak. Most available statistics refer to data from the USA, but relatively speaking, we can apply the same numbers to Toronto, Canada. And although bed bugs did not appear commonly on the news until some time in 2010, the infestations began much earlier, some time in 2004. According to the National Pest Management Association (based in Fairfax, Virginia), their “Bugs without Borders” survey showed that member professionals were involved in a bed bug infestation during the past year – an almost 100% increase from the previous year.
It seems that when bed bugs are discovered in the more public places, like hotels, shopping centers, and office complexes, attention levels are heightened, although complacency is still prevalent. Pest management contractors, and retailers who sell prevention products, are in agreement that the “war” will not be over any time soon. Their sales levels confirm an increase in demand, and surveys like “Bugs without Borders” further establish the spread of infestations (their analysis of public places included schools, daycare centers, hospitals, and libraries).
Entomologists around the nation (scientists who specialize in the study of insects) are in agreement about several emerging trends. They note that people with bed bug issues are often bothered by the stigma associated with bed bugs, and are reluctant to get help. They also note that public places are posing an increasing risk of infestation – places like office buildings, hotels, even libraries. Interestingly, it’s the people with bed bugs at home that are unwittingly transporting the critters into the public spaces. Moreover, with the public becoming more aware of the “war against bed bugs ”, it’s incumbent on business, industry and institutions to develop public policies designed to diminish the prevalence.
Today, the pest control industry advocates a common message – a message that’s directly related to the stress and anxiety associated with an infestation – they’re simply telling people not to “freak out”. Bed bugs do not spread disease, and their bites are not serious. With the right tools and equipment, infestations can be quickly and efficiently handled. Many experts regard bed bugs as just another pest control problem – not much different than having cockroaches or termites in the home.
Another point of agreement amongst entomologists concerns prevention. All agree that information and education is key – understanding the nature of bed bugs; knowing how to identify them; and most importantly, how to avoid bringing them into the home. The truth is, anyone can be touched by bed bugs, regardless of their social status, income level, or location. And as usual, consumers need to be informed – not only about early detection, but also about the various products and services now available in the market.