A new study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology titled “Spatial and Temporal Patterns in Cimex lectularius (Hemiptera: Cimicidae) Reporting in Philadelphia, PA” looked at four years of bed bug reports to the city of Philadelphia, and found that infestations have been increasing and were at their highest in August and lowest in February. The findings point to two possible peak times to strike and eliminate the bugs.
“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.”
“Warm weather could be a driver for migration to other homes and breeding,” he said. “We may be able to exploit this cycle. These seasonal trends could guide control programs to help reduce a city’s growing bug population,” he added.
To track the spatial and temporal patterns of the bugs, Levy and colleagues, including first author Tarub S. Mabud, 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.
Reports came from all across the city, though south Philadelphia was the most affected by the bugs.
Overall, bed bug reports in the city steadily increased by 4.5 percent per month from 2008 to 2012, an almost 70 percent increase year to year. Nearly half of all pest infestations reported to the city over that time period were for bed bugs, a total of 382. From September 2011 to June 2012, Philadelphia residents made 236 reports of bed bug infestations, according to the study.
Infestations peaked in August and reached a low in February, the team found.
They most likely move more frequently during warmer months, with increased development and reproduction happening as well, the team surmises.
“While bed bugs likely migrate actively over short distances, perhaps between adjacent rooms or houses, we think they are starting new infestation hotspots throughout the city by riding on people or personal effects over longer distances,” said Mabud.
Those living in Philadelphia should not be the only ones concerned about higher instances of bed bugs this season.
Here are helpful best practices for preventing a bed bug infestation this summer:
1. Inspect your surroundings for signs of bed bugs
2. Remove all shoes before entering your home
3. Quarantine any personal items in sealed plastic if you suspect an issue
4. Treat suspect items with dryer heat over 120 degrees for a minimum of 30 minutes
5. Seal cracks and crevices with caulk in your home to prevent pest entry
6. Always use mattress encasements
7. Use Climb-up interceptors as an early warning system
8. When possible avoid purchasing used furniture, and choose metal bed frames over wood
9. Incorporate quarterly K-9 inspections to proactively combate re-infestations
10. Leverage Sulfuryl Fluoride fumigation to guarantee anything brought into the home is bed bug free
For more best practices and tips to avoid bed bugs while traveling, please download our travel guide; for additional assistance dealing with bed bugs during the summer months, contact Bed Bugs and Beyond at 888-410-1333 or visit our website: www.bedbugsandbeyond.com