Bed bug survey: The little suckers are everywhere, including church! Good God!

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Yesterday, we told you that the bed bug-killahs are in town: An estimated 500 pest management professionals are attending the inaugural National Bed Bug Forum in Broomfield, which runs through tomorrow. The shindig is hosted by the National Pest Management Association, which also recently conducted the nation's largest bed bug-related survey. And the results are... icky.

The survey is called "Bugs Without Borders: Defining the Global Bed Bug Resurgence." To gather info, the NPMA and the University of Kentucky surveyed 948 pest control companies in the U.S. and abroad.

Here are some of the findings:

An overwhelming 95% of U.S. respondents indicated their company or organization encountered a bed bug infestation in the past year, with similarly high frequencies reported for Canada (98%), Europe (92%) and Africa/Middle East (90%). The majority of respondents also encountered bed bugs during the past year in Mexico/Central America (80%), Asia (73%), and South America (59%).

Factors mentioned as contributing to the resurgence included:

  • Overcrowding of cities, leading to poor hygiene and sanitation
  • Unregulated sale, donation, importation and smuggling of second-hand clothing and mattresses
  • More clutter and belongings in which the bugs can hide, conducive building and decorating practices, and transience and turnover of occupants
  • Denial/lack of incident reporting by tenants, workers, landlords, hotel or business management, universities, etc.
  • Economic expansion in developing countries, enabling more people (living with bed bugs) to travel
  • Soldiers returning home from conflicts in Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan
  • Global health officials focusing their efforts on disease vectors rather than bed bugs
  • Changes in indoor treatment for disease-carrying mosquitoes, including reliance on pyrethroids and short-lived ULV applications that are less effective against bed bugs
  • A worldwide decline in preventive inspections/treatments of hotels, apartments, etc. for pests including bed bugs
  • Changing lifestyles, resulting in greater reliance on communal laundries rather than washing items at home
  • A global increase in secondary hosts, including rodents, poultry, dogs and cats.

In the U.S., the greatest percentage of respondents said they've encountered infestations in apartments and condominiums (mentioned by 89%), single family homes (by 88%), and hotels/motels (67%).

Several also said they found bed bugs in college dormitories (mentioned by 35%), homeless shelters (31%), nursing homes (24%), office buildings (17%), hospitals (12%), and primary/secondary schools (10%).

When U.S. firms were surveyed a few years ago, half as many respondents found them in hospitals and schools, and less than 1% mentioned finding them in office buildings.

Other 'atypical' places where U.S. respondents reported finding bed bugs included public transportation (by 9%), laundries (5%) and movie theaters (4%), as well as in churches, day cares, libraries, summer camps, hostels, furniture and retail stores, restaurants, locker rooms, dressing rooms, prisons, fire and police stations, moving vans, ambulances, funeral homes, and doctor's offices.

The majority of respondents from the U.S., Canada, Europe, Africa and Australia felt that bed bugs are difficult to control -- more so than cockroaches, ants and termites. In the U.S., 76% found bed bugs more difficult to control than ants (considered "most difficult" by 13% of respondents), cockroaches (by 9%), and termites (by only 2%).

In the U.S., 72% of respondents felt there was no busier time of the year for bed bugs; of those who felt there was a seasonal pattern, however, summer was again mentioned as the busiest season (48%). Several respondents also mentioned they received more bed bug calls after holidays, vacations, and completion of the school year when children return home.

In conclusion, bed bugs are everywhere and you can't even escape them when you're dead. (Bed bugs in funeral homes?! Ick!) Here's hoping that the bug-killin' minds gathered at the National Bed Bug Forum come up with an attack plan.

More from our News archive: "Beaver Lady Sherri Tippie explains how to give a dam, save a river."

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