Is The Bed Bug Problem Overstated

I read an interesting article on Canada.com this morning. Its author, Mike Stachiew, questions where all the bed bugs have gone, and implies that the North American epidemic is in fact not an epidemic at all.

Stachiew’s story: While travelling in northeastern America, Stachiew saw the occasional sign on the side of the road offering the services of exterminators that specialized in bed bug eradication. This time last year he was taking extra precautions while travelling, but this year, he says he hasn’t heard anything about them. I’m wondering how this is possible. The fact is, I’ve seen more bed bug related news this year than ever before.

Is the problem overstated? I think not.

After his US trip, Stachiew checked the Bed Bug Registry to see if the hotels he stayed at had any reports of the nasty little bugs. It turns out that one of them did, although he didn’t find bed bugs in the room he stayed in. It made him question how relevant the reports are. I have questioned the validity of those reports as well, and have often wondered how damaging they are to the businesses that receive them.

The problem is, what if they are valid? How does one know for sure?

This weekend and last, I had two friends go off to New York City, known bed bug haven, for a weekend vacation. I asked them where they were staying. They gave me the name of the hotels and I checked the Registry. The first hotel was clean, but the second had one report – a somewhat suspicious one, at that. It wasn’t particularly specific and detailed, meaning that the “welts” the person discovered on their body could have been from any number of things.

In both cases, my friends had heard nothing about bed bugs. In fact, they thought a simple aerosol can spray would get rid of them and it wasn’t worth cancelling their reservation. I informed them of their mistake, let them know just how difficult they can be to get rid of and cautioned them to play it safe. At the very least, follow the travel tips outlined in a previous blog.

Stachiew did make an interesting discovery, though. After a little research, he found that Google trends mirrored his thoughts. According to logistics, Google trends found that “bed bugs” peaked in 2010 and dropped substantially in 2011. There is, however, no way of knowing how accurate these findings are, and whether or not they represent bed bug outbreaks in reality. Interestingly, Google trends will even pinpoint specific regions so you can get a better idea of which areas are most affected. Take a look at the findings for New York City and you’ll see why I warned my friends.

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