To many people, it's horrifying to even imagine blood-sucking creatures crawling over them at night, while they try to catch much-needed sleep in the presumed safety of their own bedrooms. But that's just what's happening to more and more people across the developed world.
The bedbug Cimex lectularius now infests as many as one in 6,000 single-family homes across the U.S., according to Stephen Kells, an entomologist from the University of Minnesota. Another entomologist, Dini Miller of Virginia Tech, likens the rise of the nocturnal, lentil-sized insect to an epidemic.
Bedbugs have plagued humanity for centuries, but were nearly wiped out in America with widespread use of DDT and other powerful insecticides in the booming industrial years of the mid 20th Century. Many of those chemicals were phased out after scientists proved they were wreaking havoc on the environment, as well as possibly leading to cancer, birth defects and other human health problems.
In a disturbing development though one that isn't particularly surprising to many environmental scientists researchers at the University of Kentucky have now shown that bedbugs collected randomly around the country were up to thousands of times more resistant to currently used insecticides than a laboratory strain of bug. This proves once again one of the major downsides of conventional methods of pesticide control.
Fortunately, bedbugs are not thought to spread disease, although they can cause itching and welts, not to mention psychological (and social) distress.
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