Recent Bed Bug List Provides Insight, but Unseasonably Warm Winter has Experts Worried About Populations for Summer

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Submitted by BedBug Central on Wed, 2012-03-28 10:19
Lawrenceville, N.J.  — Last week, Orkin (a subsidiary of Rollins Inc.) released its top 50 bed bug cities list for 2011 and entomologists and pest control professional are currently debating what factors effect fluctuations in bed bug populations in a given city. Is the population dependent on high tourism, such as New York (#9 on list) or Los Angeles (#5), warmer average summer temperatures in southern cities like Dallas (#7), or are trends from city to city driven more by warmer than average seasonal temperatures?

Although these types of lists provide insight into trends within a city, bed bug awareness and prevention continues to be the critical step in minimizing the spread of this pest.

 “This recent list about bed bugs should not cause panic or provide a sense of security for residents in these particular cities,” said Jeffrey White, Technical Director and Research Entomologist at BedBug Central. “Although a city may have moved on the list, many factors can influence the rankings on this list. For example, since only one company was evaluated, this company could have multiple chains or a greater influence and presence in one city over another.”

Over the past year, the Department of Housing, Preservation and Development (HPD) in New York City reported a small decrease in bed bug complaints for the first time since the resurgence started.   A decrease in bed bug calls may be due to an increase public awareness from the various media coverage this pest has received or due to the efforts of NYC to institute bed bug policies recommended by the Bed Bug Advisory Board. 

In contrast, Dallas, a city with limited media bed bug coverage, reported significant increases in bed bug service calls in 2011 compared with 2010. 

In addition to looking at trends within cities, many experts in the Northeast are wondering what affect the warmer than normal winter that has recently ended will have on summer bed bug populations.

“We have definitely documented for the past few years that bed bugs show a seasonal trend where July through September are their peak time,” said White. “Although bed bugs are a problem year round, this significant peak in activity during the warmer months is most likely due to the warmer temperatures inside the home or other public places.”

In response to the warmer than average winter in the Northeast, BedBug Central asked several companies in the Northeast to compare winter 2011 to winter 2012 bed bug service calls to see if there has been an increase in bed bug populations.

 “Most companies we spoke to are not reporting an increase this winter in bed bug calls in residential homes compared to last winter,” said White. “That being said this does not conclude that the warmer than average winter temperatures will not affect summer bed bugs. Unfortunately we won’t gain additional insight until the summer is behind us.”

With the summer months quickly approaching, bed bug awareness and prevention are essential to avoiding and limiting damage incurred by bed bug infestation. Although, top bed bug city lists can provide limited insight, it is important to realize the most significant way to slow the spread of bed bugs is through community wide bed bug education programs.

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