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Do Bed Bugs Ever Go Away On Their Own?

It’s never pleasant to realize that your home or apartment has bed bugs.  Constant itching, potential property replacement, visits to the doctor, costly pest control services — the list of stressors and hassles goes on and on. But do you really have to go through all that, or could the infestation sort itself out?  Is there any shred of hope your bed bugs could just… disappear after awhile?  Our apartment bed bug attorneys explain why you can’t count on bed bugs to vanish by themselves — and even more importantly, what you should do if you’re dealing with an infestation.

What Causes Infestations to Occur?

Most insects are seasonal creatures who come and go as the weather changes.  Ants can be a nuisance during the summer months — but they tend to disappear once the weather cools again.  Ladybugs gather in massive swarms as summer transitions into fall — but by the time November rolls around, they vanish as abruptly as they came. On a physiological level, many insects simply cannot withstand fall and winter temperatures: they thrive during warm months, and die off or migrate as the sun shifts.

Unfortunately, bed bugs aren’t quite as sensitive.

Bed bugs don’t appear in homes, hotels, and apartments simply because they’re seeking warmth, have been driven from their nests or hives (which they do not build), or smell sugar or garbage.  The causes of infestations are more numerous and complex.  Wherever they are, you can be certain they want one thing: human blood.

While bed bugs have been noted in the writings of Greek philosophers like Aristotle and Socrates as early as 400 B.C., they have flourished throughout much of the 20th and 21st centuries due to contemporary factors like:

  • Increased resistance to commonly-used pesticides, particularly those in the pyrethroid and pyrethrin classes. This issue stems from two factors:
    • Resistance gradually building up from one generation to the next, a product of the passage of time which would not have been as problematic just one or two centuries ago.
    • Industrial abandonment of dangerous (yet effective) pesticides like DDT, which was commonly used after World War II.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the agricultural use of DDT on December 31, 1972.  (Even then, in the original press release issuing the announcement, the EPA cited “increased insect resistance” as one of the reasons for the ban.)
  • Increased domestic and international travel, which helps bed bugs spread across state, country, and even continental lines. Bed bugs are exceptionally good at hiding undetected in luggage and clothing for several reasons:
    • They do not announce their presence with conspicuous noises like wasps, bees, cockroaches, Cicadas, or flies.
    • They have tiny, flattened bodies — approximately five millimeters in length — which enable them to wedge themselves into the tightest of spaces.  Their dull brown color further helps them blend in with pet fur and dark clothing or bedding.
    • They are rapid crawlers, capable of covering up to three to four feet per minute.
  • Ability to acclimate to a wide range of hot and cold temperatures.  Heat treatments must raise ambient temperatures to at least 113 degrees, for at least 90 minutes, in order to be effective.  At the other end of the spectrum, bed bugs can also survive temperatures near freezing for extended periods of time.  The University of Minnesota recommends four consecutive days of exposure to temperatures below zero degrees Fahrenheit.  Can you fit your mattress in your freezer?

bed bug infestation itching

What to Do if You Have Bed Bugs

There’s no question that bed bugs are exceptionally hardy creatures.  But what does this mean for infestation victims?

This probably isn’t the news you wanted to hear, but unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that you simply cannot afford to wait your bed bugs out.  Not only will the infestation fail to clear up on its own — it will spread and intensify with each passing day. Studies show that bed bugs can live up to one year without feeding, and even longer given certain environmental circumstances.  Given that female bed bugs can lay between two to five eggs per day, an ignored or mismanaged infestation can quickly turn into an unbearable and expensive situation.

Remember, bed bugs have entered your space for one reason only: to feed on you.  As long as you remain in your home or apartment, your bed bugs have no reason to travel elsewhere.  Why would they, when they can easily feed on your blood night after night as you sleep?  Bed bugs will not abandon a stable, readily accessible food supply — unless you give them a reason to.

The longer you wait to contact a licensed and certified pest control professional, the more bed bugs you will have.  The more bed bugs you have (and the longer you have them), the greater your risk of exposure to serious illnesses like Chagas Disease and hepatitis B becomes.  Finally, prolonged infestations are more difficult to eradicate successfully, which simply means greater expense and inconvenience to you.

On the other hand, you can minimize the risk of sustaining serious injuries or property damage by intervening during the early stages of infestation.  The sooner you contact a licensed pest control company, the easier it will be to exterminate the bed bugs and return to your normal life.  If you are a renter, talk to your landlord before contacting a pest control company yourself.  Depending on the provisions of the municipal code applicable to your city or county, it’s possible that your landlord is responsible for bed bug treatments.  Expenses related to eradication may not necessarily have to come out of your pocket.

If you’ve suffered serious injuries or financial losses due to an apartment or hotel bed bug infestation, the attorneys of Whitney, LLP may be able to help.  To start discussing your situation in a free and confidential legal consultation, call our law offices right away at (410) 583-8000.

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