Exterminator! Bedbug infestations in US cities are on the rise

Only Australia seems to be winning the epic struggle between homo sapiens and bedbug

(Credit: Gilles San Martin/Flickr, back photo; Pixabay, illustration)
(Credit: Gilles San Martin/Flickr, back photo; Pixabay, illustration)

Data analyzed by pest-control company Orkin shows an increasing number of bedbug infestations in American cities, and researchers seem to agree.

The data spans December 2016 to November 2017 and the findings, Bloomberg reports, are fueling a growing extermination industry worth over $611 million last year, though the industry is estimated to reach a $1 billion valuation in five years. For hotels, the average of cost of an infestation is upwards of $23,000 — the figure accounts for lost revenue and legal costs as people tend to get litigious after spending a night or two with the bloodthirsty insects.

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Why is this happening? After the Second World War, humanity, though devastated itself, seems to have checked the spread of bedbugs, according to researchers. But globalization, restricted use of insecticides and bedbugs tolerance to the successors of chemicals like DDT have made modern bedbugs into resourceful, rugged survivors.

Other countries are having a tough go of it too, but in most places humans aren’t winning the struggle to drive the insects out of buildings.

“Numbers seem to be decreasing, but [Australia is] the only continent in the world where bed bugs seem to be going backwards,” said Stephen Doggett, a director of medical entomology, to Bloomberg. [Bloomberg]Erin Hudson

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