In today’s News That Will Make You Itch, pollution and the use of pesticides have likely led to a rise in bedbugs, according to experts. One U.K. pest control company, Rentokil, warned that bedbug infestations increased 65% from 2022 to 2023.
What is happening?
“Bedbugs are everywhere,” wrote London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine professor of medical entomology James Logan in the Guardian.
Professor Logan attributes the rise in bedbugs to a couple of factors. For one, bedbugs are now resistant to most commonly used insecticides, which means that in addition to poisoning waterways and harming ecosystems, insecticides aren’t even doing the one thing they’re supposed to do.
The other reason is rising global temperatures driven by human-caused air pollution. “[Most] insects breed better in warmer temperatures; so if there are more hotter months in the year, then there’s more chance of insects breeding in greater numbers,” Professor Logan wrote.
Why is this concerning?
While bedbugs are luckily not disease vectors, their bites cause itching, and the effects of a bedbug infestation can be devastating, driving people from their homes and causing adverse mental health and economical consequences.
However, Professor Logan warned not to give in to despair. “[We] should try to temper our instinctive disgust,” he wrote, adding: “Bedbugs don’t discriminate; they aren’t associated with unclean spaces. Thinking this way can create an unfair societal stigma on the victim.”
What can be done about it?
In order to avoid a bedbug infestation in the first place, Professor Logan advised taking precautions while traveling, such as keeping your suitcase off the bed and floor, and keeping it zipped up.
If you spot the signs of a bedbug infestation in your home, you should call an exterminator as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, scientists are at work on more effective and less environmentally destructive ways to combat bedbugs than insecticides. One such solution is a product called BugScents, which uses bedbug pheromones to lure the insects out.
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