2011 Bugs Without Borders Survey: New Data Shows Bed Bug Pandemic Is Growing

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The 2011 Bugs Without Borders Survey conducted by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA)  and the University of Kentucky, has found that bed bug infestations have increased and are now being found just about everywhere. The study, which surveyed U.S. pest management professionals, found that 99 percent of respondents encountered bed bug infestations in the past year. More than eight of out ten noted that bed bug infestations are increasing across the country. This represents a sharp increase in prevalence as only a mere 11 percent of respondents reported receiving bed bug calls more than 10 years ago. One of the most significant findings is that bed bug encounters have become much more common in public places than the previous year, in some instances increasing by 10, 20 or nearly 30 percent.

"The increase in bed bug encounters is likely due to a combination of factors, but one thing is clear - this pest shows no signs of retreating," noted Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for NPMA. "Of most concern are the places where pest professionals are encountering bed bugs, such as, schools, hospitals, and hotels/motels. In many cases the numbers of professionals who have reported treating certain types of businesses and commercial facilities has seen double digit growth."

"Increased public awareness, education and vigilance are key in detecting and preventing bed bug infestations as these pests tend to travel undetected from place to place, breed quickly and remain one of the most challenging to treat," added Henriksen. "NPMA advises consumers against the 'this can't happen to me' attitude, because bed bugs are equal opportunity pests."

Here are several key highlights from the 2011 Bugs Without Borders Survey:
 
1.       Nearly all professional pest management companies have received bed bug calls in the past year. Respondents attribute the growth in bed bug infestations to increasing travel and movement of people, continued need for awareness, changing pest control products and methods, and bed bug resistance to available pest control products.

2.      While nine out of ten respondents have treated bed bugs in apartments, condominiums and single-family homes in 2011 and 2010, in the past year reports of bed bug encounters have become more common in a many other places. For example, the numbers of professionals who treated college dorms, hotels, nursing homes, office buildings, schools and daycare centers, hospitals, public transportation and movie theaters for bed bugs have all increased compared to last year. More specifically:

  • College dorms (54 percent, up from 35 percent a year ago)
  • Hotels/motels (80 percent, up from 67 percent)
  • Nursing homes (46 percent, up from 25 percent)
  • Office buildings (38 percent, up from 18 percent)
  • Schools and day care centers (36 percent, up from 10 percent)
  • Hospitals (31 percent, up from 12 percent)
  • Transportation (train/bus/taxi) (18 percent up from nine percent)
  • Movie theaters (17 percent, up from five percent)
  • Survey respondents also report finding bed bugs in retail stores, laundromats, libraries, restaurants and airplanes.

 

NOTE: Percentages denote professionals reporting treating bed bugs in specific locations and percentage increases from 2010.

3.       Bed bugs continue to be THE most difficult pest to treat, according to 73 percent of survey respondents. By comparison, 17 percent pointed to ants, nine percent said cockroaches and one percent said termites were the most difficult pests to control.  

4.       Six out of 10 respondents consider bed bug infestations a year-round phenomenon, while approximately 25 percent say that summer is the time of year when they receive more bed bug calls. As people tend to travel more during the summer months it may be likely they'll have a higher risk of taking hitchhiking bed bugs with them from hotels and transportation sources to homes more so than at other times of the year.

5.       When it comes to evaluation and treatment, visual inspection remains the most common method pest professionals use to determine if a bed bug infestation exists. However, the use of canines has grown from 16 percent to 43 percent in the past year.

6.       Despite the many warnings that bed bugs are not a DIY pest, 25 percent of customers attempt to treat bed bug infestations by themselves before calling a professional. This number has decreased from the 38 percent who elected to treat bed bugs by themselves in 2010. Those who attempt to treat bed bug infestations by themselves often engage in dangerous and risky DIY practices putting themselves and their property at risk and are often ineffective at controlling the infestation.

Bed bugs are the size and color of a flat apple seed, like to travel and will hide in suitcases, boxes and shoes to be near a food supply (humans). In addition to the mattress and headboard, bed bugs can be found behind baseboards, electrical switch plates, picture frames, wallpaper, upholstery and in furniture crevices.

More information can be found at AllThingsBedBugs.org, NPMA's resource on everything bed bug related, from prevention tips to current news or on PestWorld.org.

The NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 7,000 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry's commitment to the protection of public health, food and property. For more information, visit PestWorld.org .

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