The limits to bedbugs
May 31, 2013 4:03 PM Subscribe
What are the limits to bedbugs? Why isn't every hotel room infested given how tough they are claimed to be? Is there any evidence on the chances of taking bed bugs home from a hotel with you? Will the bedbug infestation rates go ever upwards? Why or why not? Interested in aggregated, rather than anecdotal evidence here.
posted by mister_kaupungister to Science & Nature (5 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I have followed the bedbugs stories in the news with horror and some fascination. In fact, I had a first encounter with bedbugs in a hotel in Central/eastern Finland. The room I was staying in, and the room next door where my friends were staying were definitely infested. Upon complaining, we were transferred to another part of the (huge and mostly empty) hotel where we checked thoroughly for bugs and, (we thought) did not see any.
After this I followed many news stories and websites on bedbugs. Most seemed to suggest that bedbugs would gradually infest in a whole building if they were introduced and the building was sufficiently occupied. They also claimed that transmission in suitcases from one hotel to another was a (the) common modern cause of infestation.
This has all lead me to wonder about the limits to bedbug infestation. With all the news stories I began to wonder why every hotel room is not infested. Why?! What are the limits of bedbugs? Bed bugs seem so tough that it doesn’t seem possible that a colony would just die out (because of say a few weeks without human food.) I also looked at the bed bug registry maps of places like New York and wondered why the recorded rates of infestation were so high. Is it because of the urban density there?
The hotel room aspect interests me. I would love to know if some experiments have been done about the propensity of bed bugs to crawl into suitcases. I certainly don’t disbelieve that people transported them in this way. I am curious about the chances of getting bugs into suitcases. (I guess it depends on many factors like how open is the suitcase, the extent of the infestation).
Finally, I noticed the bedbug stories most of all in the mid-late 2000s, so I wondered if any decline in their prevalence has been reported since then. Or is it just a media (and bed bug registry) reporting thing (or my attention)? Does anyone know of any reasonably solid data sources (I don’t know how much to trust bed bug registry) and perhaps modelling or statistical analysis of bed bug transmission? All the media reports make me think that bed bug infestation should go ever upwards – it would be interesting if their population had recently gone down over some period as well as up for some reason.
I have read a lot of personal experiences about bedbugs, but I am mostly interested in aggregated, statistical or survey sort of evidence with respect to all these issue. Can any Mefites shed light here?