Bed Bugs: The Story of How International Travel Caused These Pests to Evolve

The news that no one wants to hear: bed bugs aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

In fact, it’s just the opposite. Over the last decade, the world has seen a tremendous growth of bedbugs, as these pests are growing at an incredible rate. According to the 2015 Bugs Without Borders Survey, almost all pest professionals — 99.6% — treated bed bugs in the past year. This is a higher number compared to only five years ago.

These reddish-brown, little creatures feed on human blood and not only can they be found in our beds, but they can also make an appearance on our clothing and furniture. They breed rapidly, and within one week, an entire apartment building can be infested without the owners even realizing it.

And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bed-bug infestations are growing simply because these bugs are evolving a resistance to our defenses.

For example, they are growing thicker, waxier exoskeletons that can help shield them from insecticides. Their metabolism has also progressed to increase their natural chemical defenses.

Not only that, but these fellas are going around the world faster than ever before. People are traveling more frequently, and as they add stamps to their passports, they grow naturally tougher.

“In a way, we created the modern bed bug: it evolved to live on us and to follow us,” science writer Brooke Borel explained to Business Insider.

If you discover these critters making themselves comfy in your home, there are a couple ways you can eliminate them. First, wash your bedding, pillows and clothing. Then, dry them in a hot dryer, which will kill the bug, no matter what stage it’s in. Then, vacuum your furniture; steam clean your carpets, rugs, and tapestries; and remove clutter, as bed bugs love hiding in dust.

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