I saw a really good answer to that question today, posted here. Just to expand, bed bugs are often considered “hearty” insects in that they travel well and endure in many different environments. Since people travel a lot these days, especially to places in the world where bed bugs are commonplace and are not really considered a “big deal,” an increase has occured in the US. Many people spread bed bugs without knowing that they are doing so, which also adds to the increase.
The increase is likely due to a few factors: increased travel on a small and large scale, a general decrease in awareness over the years, ineffective pesticides, and new construction methods. Once they have appeared, people often deal with them improperly, which helps the infestation spread rapidly. The most effective way to deal with bed bugs is a pest control professional — other methods are generally not very effective.
Increased travel and immigration coupled with the bed bug’s resiliency to pesticides and superior survival skills (they can live without food for up to a year) are primary reasons for increasing infestations across the U.S. They spread quickly in densely populated areas, even by traveling on humans as “hitchhikers”, and a lack of incident reporting has compounded the problem.
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