Prevention and Control of Bed Bugs – Introduction


For the past several decades Michigan, the United States, and most of North America were virtually bed bug free. Bed bug infestations had become so rare that many entomologists and pest management professionals had never seen a live specimen, and bed bugs were no longer considered a public health threat. This was due primarily to improved living standards and widespread use of insecticides like DDT. Many people believed that these parasites were just an imaginary specter from a popular bedtime phrase, “…sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite!”

Recently, however, bed bugs have made a dramatic resurgence. Safety and environmental concerns have led to greater restriction of pesticides, and bed bugs have developed resistance to many widely used pesticides. Couple this with the transient nature of many segments of society, increased domestic and international travel, and we have a recipe for the rapid spread of infestations. In the past few years, bed bugs have been found in hotels, shelters, hospitals, universities, schools, apartments, and homes. Bed bugs don’t discriminate, and will infest any human dwelling, from the most cramped student apartment to the most luxurious five-star hotel.

Bed bugs are difficult to control because they are so skilled at hiding, which allows them to travel in our belongings (clothing items, luggage, furniture, electronics, etc.) without our knowledge. Most people do not even realize they have visited somewhere with an infestation, and bring the bed bugs back to their residence. Once established in a residence or unit in a building, the bed bugs can travel between rooms or apartments on their own or on people’s clothing or other belongings.

This manual has been created as a guide and reference tool, and is specific to the laws and regulations of the State of Michigan. The target audiences are public agencies and private or public housing administrators and their facilities management teams. It is also applicable to homeowners and any other member of the public dealing with a bed bug infestation. The manual will cover bed bug biology, health concerns, and prevention and management of infestations in different types of living situations. Fact sheets listed at the end may be used and reproduced as “stand alone” educational documents for residents, housekeepers, medical and social service providers, and others as needed.


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