Bed Bugs: A History

Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite! We’ve been saying it for years, but only recently has this goodnight blessing been meant to be taken literally again.

Bed bugs were once a common plague, and according to the History Channel according to the History Channel, they likely found their way to America by hitching a ride in the suitcases of our founding fathers.

“Probably, most ships of the 17th century and before harbored bed bugs,” said Robert Snetsinger, a professor emeritus of entomology at Penn State University, “and the colonists and their belongings brought them to America.”

Insect experts at the American Museum of Natural History have pointed out that there is no record of a Native American word for bed bugs, further supporting the theory that they arrived in the colonies along with the first settlers. But there is also evidence that the existence of these pests can be traced back much farther than the birth of our nation.

Bed bug fossils were even found during the excavation of 3,550 year old Egyptian ruins, and ancient scholars even kept records of the bugs’ existence in their writings. There are mentions of bed bugs in the works of the Greek playwright Aristophanes from around 400 B.C., and the Roman philosopher Pliny even wrote of the benefits of using bed bugs as treatment for common ailments circa 77 A.D.

Once bed bugs reached the the New World, they wasted no time in making their presence widely known. To combat the widespread infestations, pesticides were used that were as effective as they were dangerous. Despite their effectiveness with eradicating these ancient opportunist pests, pesticides like diazinon and chlordane were eventually outlawed in the 1980s.

Cue the great bed bug comeback. Despite regulations on pesticide use and the limitations of approved chemicals, there is still hope for combating bed bugs today. Heat remediation treatment is a proven effective treatment for these historic nightcrawlers when all else fails. Unlike with pesticide use, bed bugs will never develop a resistance to high temperatures, making heat treatment a solid choice against the pests today.

Posted In: Bed Bugs