Bed bugs are the new boogeymen lurking in the nightmares of Canadians, spreading quickly throughout the country and seemingly impossible to eradicate. But what is it about these bugs that make them so much more effective than other pests such as fleas or cockroaches? Read on to discover the unique evolutionary advantages that make bed bugs such impressive survivors and, consequently, such nuisances for their human prey.
Ability to Survive Without Feeding
Under ideal temperatures and conditions, a bed bug can live for over a year without feeding. They do so by slowing their metabolism drastically in the cold, both extending their lifespan and the time that they can last without nutrients. This means that you will not be able to starve bed bugs out unless you are willing to crank up the heat and abandon your home for weeks or even months. Since heat does increase their metabolism, however, it is still a viable option for the desperate.
Bed bugs are relatively large compared to ticks and fleas, and they leave ample evidence of their nightly intrusions through blood smears and fecal material. Still, many people do not see any bugs until they go actively hunting for them, since bed bugs are so adept at squeezing themselves into dark, flat spaces. They typically hide up to 20 feet from their feeding site, and it can be almost impossible to track down each and every bug.
Quick Reproduction Through Inbreeding
How many bed bugs does it take to start an infestation? One, if that bug is a pregnant female. Bed bugs are capable of inbreeding without serious negative effects for many generations, so a single set of brothers and sisters is all it takes to overrun an entire building. The population may eventually die out due to deteriorating genetic quality, but not before they cause you serious grief or possibly run into an unrelated individual and start the cycle all over again.
Don't make the mistake of thinking of these pests as mindless drones. Bed bugs seek out their victims by following the trail of carbon dioxide that animals exhale, and this allows them to sniff out other chemical agents as well. If your resident bed bugs survive an initial blast of poison, they will avoid that scent and remain hidden in safety until it is gone.
Immunity to Common Pesticides
The biggest frustration for pest control companies battling bed bugs is their growing resistance to toxins that could once eliminate them easily. Pyrethoids, a class of chemicals that kill bed bugs without harming human beings and their pets, are now useless against certain populations of the pest. And thanks to regular human travel, those resistant genes are spreading at an alarming rate. Although it is still possible to remove these unwanted visitors from your home permanently, there is no denying that their remarkably adaptive nature has made it more difficult than ever before.