Sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite.
That old saying has some relevance today as bed bugs have made a resurgence across the United States.
Recently, a bed bug was found in a classroom at Washington Elementary School.
“We are investigating the seriousness of this specific event,” School District 117 Superintendent Steve Ptacek said. “We do feel that it is a very isolated event that we are able to contain. We will be discussing treatment options with pest-control experts. From the literature we’ve read and advice from experts we’ve spoken with, there is not an overall concern of any school being a source of infestation because bed bugs feed at night and schools do not provide the food source to promote growth of the population.”
Bed bugs are parasitic insects that feed exclusively on blood.
The name bed bug comes from the fact that they prefer living on beds and bedding. Bed bugs are mainly active at night, but are not exclusively nocturnal. They usually feed on their hosts without being noticed, according to Wikipedia.
A number of adverse health effects may result from bed bug bites, including skin rashes, psychological effects and allergic symptoms. However, bed bugs are not known to transmit any diseases.
Bed bugs have been known as human parasites for thousands of years. In the early 1940s, they were mostly eradicated in the developed world, but have made a resurgence since 1995, likely due to pesticide resistance, governmental bans on effective pesticides and international travel.
“We received our first verified call of a bed bug infestation about 15 years ago and now we get multiple calls every day about bed bugs,” said Jeff Haggerty, president of Rid-All Pest Control in Jacksonville. “In the last year or two there have been some new products that are impacting bed bugs better than anything available to us prior to that.”
The U.S. National Pest Management Association reported a 71 percent increase in bed bug calls between 2000 and 2005, according to Wikipedia. In 2013, Chicago was listed as the No. 1 city in the United States with the worst bed bug infestation. As a result, the Chicago City Council passed a bed bug control ordinance to limit their spread.
“As regulations on pesticides have strengthened, we are seeing that the pesticides being used no longer have as strong of a residual effect in controlling the population of bed bugs,” said Dale Bainter, administrator of the Morgan County Health Department. “One thing about those now-banned pesticides is that unfortunately they had a detrimental effect on organisms that we were not trying to control.”
The control of bed bugs is the responsibility of the property owner, Bainter said.
“It is not uncommon for the Morgan County Health Department to receive complaints about bed bugs in the community,” he said. “The control of bed bugs can be quite difficult and the health department’s advice is that people seek professional help in eradicating the problem.”