Sleep Tight

Written by Shara Love

This is not an easy article to write as I am sure it is not easy to read, but it is however a peculiar topic due to the nature of increased instances heard throughout pretty much every city. I’m talking about bed bugs. I know, cringe! As skin-crawling and nerve-cringing critters such as bed bugs are, I think it’s important to shine a little light on their lineage and why there is such an epidemic happening now.

There was a study published last year by a University of Tulsa Oklahoma professor Warren Booth and his colleagues that BBC-Earth wrote an article about which takes a look at the lineages of bed bugs, their brief epidemic during the mid-1950s which was essentially neutralized by a pesticide campaign in the United States, and the reason for their ferocious return. As much disdain as I have for these blood-sucking critters, I can appreciate the study into their significance and learn something about them in the event I am unfortunate enough to be graced with their presence.

Published in the journal Molecular Ecology, Booth and his colleagues reveal findings on the lineages of this species and trace their origin back to bats as their original host with humans beings becoming the next victim. Some of the latest bed bug fossils date back to about 3,500 years ago and have some references in ancient literature from Egypt. The spreading of these creatures is extremely easy due to the fact that one female bed bug, once impregnated, can infect an entire building (hotel, apartment complex, even home to home spread by host relocation).

During the 1950s when they became a nuisance in many homes across the United States pesticides, that they had not been previously exposed to, had wiped them out without much issue up until about 10 or 15 years ago. And just like many human illnesses you hear about evolving and needing stronger vaccines or antibodies for, so too did bed bugs become resistant to our pesticides which is why they have steadily been becoming more of an issue. BBC-Earth stated that the bed bugs we see today have mutated to the point where 90% of them are resistant to insecticides that we used to be able to get rid of them with. This raises many questions about the ways in which we approach ridding of creatures of this planet. As the bed bug epidemic becomes worse regardless of our efforts, it’s time to start thinking of ways to approach combating the blood-sucking critters in a way that will prohibit them from evolving to something even more.