Monday, August 13, 2007

Don't Let the Bedbugs Bite

Bed feeling a little crowded? Maybe you have company.

The Cimex lectularius, better known and despised as the common bedbug, is snuggling into households across Southern California, giving people the heebie- jeebies. The blood-sucking, heat-seeking, pint-size parasites aren't believed by the experts to transmit disease, but they do have a way of cranking up stress levels...

For much of the second part of the last century the liberal use of the eventually banned pesticide DDT seemed to all but do away with them. Now bedbugs have moved into single-family homes with a vengeance and taken up lodging in schools, hospitals and college dormitories too....

"Bedbugs are just going ballistic everywhere," said Michael Potter, a professor of entomology at the University of Kentucky. "It is going to really rock this country. I'm not trying to sound sensationalist.

"Bedbugs hitchhike on humans or in luggage and burrow into bedding, books, sofas and just about any cozy place, even picture frames. Once they establish squatter's rights, evicting them isn't easy. Or cheap. Casting them out of the average house in Southern California can cost thousands of dollars and require multiple visits...

Western Exterminator Co., which serves California, reported a 240% increase in bedbug work from 2000 to 2006. Isotech Pest Management Inc. in Pomona is conducting about 1,000 inspections a month -- 700% more than last year...

A number of reasons are cited for the infestations, among them the DDT ban and an increase in international travel. "It's not a case of being a lower socioeconomic thing," said William Brogdon, a research entomologist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "These things can happen to anybody."...

"A bedbug is really a wonderful survivor" that can persevere for as long as 18 months without nourishment, said entomologist Frank Meek, a technical director for Orkin. "They can hide and live a long time."...

They arrived in the New World with the first colonists and were plentiful until about the 1940s, when DDT seemed to do away with them. Their comeback means public education is vital, Potter said. For example, it's foolhardy to retrieve a mattress or couch from a curb or a dumpster... He's not optimistic about the future, given current restrictions on powerful chemicals and the bugs' knack for adapting to them. "Our arsenal is depleted of effective products," he said, and there's no "silver bullet in the wings."

from (boldface mine)

Read the whole article to hear the first-hand horror stories of average middle class Americans managing a modern day plague in their homes.

Once again, is it time to rethink the ban on DDT?

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At 8/15/2007 6:03 PM, Blogger Ed Darrell said...

DDT to fight bedbugs? Why not burn the house? That would work, too.

Bedbugs were among the earliest pests to show great resistance to DDT. The return of bedbugs has a lot more to do with changes in hotel maintenance and increased travel.

Sure it's a problem. If it becomes a serious health problem, then under the "ban" DDT can be used against them -- so there's no need to rethink anything.

Better would be that we prevent the infestations in the first place.

At 8/19/2007 9:59 PM, Blogger Bos'un said...

Don't let the bedbugs bite.



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