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A (mostly bleak) bedbug update


I, like many, find bedbugs to be quite disturbing. I think about them almost every time I check into a hotel - and, I'll admit, even in very nice hotels I've been known to check a mattress or two. So, even though I'm a few days late to it, John Rennie's well-written update on the return of bedbugs in the U.S. caught my attention. He writes:

...At the EPA's Second National Bed Bug Summit held this past February, experts in public health and entomology reviewed the state of the pest control technology and the mixed results of various efforts to eliminate the bugs in different cities.

Their conclusions were mostly bleak, especially for anyone praying for an easy chemical solution. Today's bed bugs are highly resistant to most pesticides, including ones such as DDT that worked well decades ago. Different populations of the insects have different resistance profiles, so compounds that work against bugs at one location won't necessarily work elsewhere, even nearby. And in any case, because bed bugs can now evolve significant resistance to pesticides so rapidly, nothing stays poisonous to them for long. What seems to work best as a general prescription is ongoing scrutiny and meticulous cleaning of mattresses, clothing and other hiding places for the insects - almost exactly the opposite of the one-time, no-fuss approach most of us would prefer.

From there, Rennie neatly summarizes the (often extreme) measures people are using to rid themselves of bedbug infestations. If you, too, have an unnatural fascination with the pests, read on.

Previously: Why we worry about bedbugs and Clinical Correlations: What everyone should know about bedbugs
Photo by louento.pix

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