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Much to the surprise of professional entomologists and pest control professionals, bed bugs reemerged throughout the United States in the 1990s after the pests were thought to have been nearly eradicated from the country during the 1950s. Bed bug infestation rates in all US states have been increasing with each passing year since the pests resurfaced, and they are particularly common in Boston due to the large volume of tourists from all parts of the world who visit the city. Boston’s Inspectional Services Department received 99 bed bug complaints in 2006, 290 in 2009, 330 in 2013, and 427 in 2015. Bed bug infestations are expected to increase in the coming years despite the fact that bed bug infestations can now be successfully eliminated due to recent advancements in pest control technology, such as steam treatments, high heat treatments, and cryonite treatments that freeze bed bugs to death.

Bed bugs belong to the family Cimididae, which is composed of around 90 species worldwide, only seven of which are known to feed on human blood. In addition to the common bed bug (Cimex lectularius), which is prevalent worldwide, the tropical bed bug (C. hemipterus) is also a common indoor bloodsucker, but in the US, this pest species can only be found in Florida. Other bed bug relatives that occasionally find their way into homes where they feed on human blood include bat bugs, swallow bugs, and other species that feed primarily on bird blood within nests. These less common Cimex pest species sometimes establish infestations by migrating into homes from bird nests situated on the exterior ledges of structures, such as window sills. Since bed bugs are unique for relying primarily on human blood for sustenance, they have evolved to survive within structures by maintaining well hidden indoor harborges where they remain until their human host is sleeping. Due to their skill at exploiting indoor conditions to avoid humans, residents often do not realize bed bugs are present in their home for several weeks or months following the establishment of an infestation.

Have you ever found signs of a bed bug presence within a hotel room?