Bed Bug Research Reveals Seasonal Trend
A new study released by epidemiologists from the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine this week revealed that infestations in the city of Philadelphia have been increasing. But researchers also discovered that infestations were at their highest in August and lowest in February. That bit of news could indicate two possible times to attack and possibly eliminate bed bugs from residential and multifamily properties.
Bed Bugs Bite More in Summer
“There is surprisingly very little known about seasonal trends among bed bug populations,” said Michael Z. Levy, PhD, assistant professor in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (CCEB), who mapped the bed bug hotspots in Philadelphia in an effort to find more effective ways to control them. “We found a steep and significant seasonal cycle in bed bug reporting, and suspect that bed bugs have different levels of mobility depending on the season, and that their population size may fluctuate throughout the year.”
The study looked at four years of bed bug reports to the city of Philadelphia and the findings were published in the Journal of Medical Entomology. Overall, bed bug reports in the city steadily increased by 4.5 percent per month from 2008 to 2011, an almost 70 percent increase year to year.
To track the spatial and temporal patterns of the bugs, researchers analyzed calls to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s Vector Control Services between 2008 and 2012. They then mapped the phone calls to get a clearer picture of the problem—when and where it was happening.
According to researchers, warm weather could be a driver for migration to other homes and breeding. While bed bugs likely migrate actively (i.e. crawl) over short distances, perhaps between adjacent rooms or houses, it’s likely they are starting new infestation hotspots throughout the city by riding on people or personal effects over longer distances.
More Reporting on Bed Bug Regional Trends Needed
While the news of the rising number of bed bug infestations in Philadelphia is discouraging, I’m optimistic about the discovery of evidence of seasonal trends. I hope more studies are conducted across the country to determine if this pattern is repeatable on a national scale or if the trends are regionally influenced.
Either way, this information could be a critical piece of knowledge for developing new and more effective eradication methods and determining whether to treat bed bugs when they are at their worst, in the summer months, or whether to wait until their numbers are down in the winter.
Do you find this news encouraging? When do you think would be the most effective time to treat bed bugs? Have you noticed any seasonal surges in bed bug infestations in your neck of the woods?
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