Why Are Bed Bugs So Difficult to Control?
Bed bugs are a challenge to control, and that's putting it mildly. The reasons are many:
Unusual biology and habits
- Bed bugs feed mainly at night, and hide during the day. They don't only live in beds, but in furniture, cracks and crevices, wall voids, under carpets, on drapes, in clothing, etc. Bed bugs travel up to twenty feet to feed, and occasionally much further. They can go for months between feedings. They can be reintroduced into a treated apartment unit in luggage, used beds or bedding, secondhand furniture, or clothing. They can also migrate from one room or apartment unit to the next through pipe and wiring runs, and in wall and ceiling voids, much as cockroaches move. (For more on bed bug biology and habits, see Top 10 Pests: Bed Bug)
Inadequate technician training on bed bugs
- Many pest control technicians do not understand bed bug biology and habits, they don’t know where to look for bed bugs, and they don’t spend enough time inspecting and treating, and they don't understand the need for follow-up inspections and retreats.
Unrealistic expectations by property managers
- Most apartment managers and property managers do not understand the difficulty of bed bug control. They just tell their "exterminators" to get rid of them. They often refuse to commit to the cleaning and operational changes necessary to get control. They are often unwilling to pay the price necessary, in terms of dollars and effort, to achieve control.
Lack of cooperation from residents
- In our experience, the major reason for bed bug retreats in apartments was that the residents didn't prepare on the day of the initial treatment. Resident cooperation with the pest control service is a must. Residents scheduled for an initial or major bed bug service need to follow the instructions of the pest control company. Often this will mean residents will need to strip their beds of all blankets and sheets, completely empty all closets, dressers, and nightstands, wash all clothing and linens and place them inside plastic bags or bins in the living room, and then vacuum before service. Such action may sound extreme but it must be done to eliminate bed bugs in clothes and possessions, and to provide the technician with the access necessary for effective treatment.
No "magic bullet" insecticides
- Modern insecticides are proving to be somewhat ineffective against bed bugs. Recent university research has shown that bed bugs are often resistant to many of the common insecticides being used today. In addition, some treatments appear to be repelling bed bugs from treated areas around the bed and furniture and driving them into deeper harborage, up into ceilings, and even into other rooms and onto other floors.
Next--Bed Bug History