Money Made and Lost Because of Bedbugs

To the extermination industry, bedbugs are as good as gold. But what effects could these little blood-suckers have on retail centers?
by | October 12, 2010 AT 5:00 PM

Here's a quick follow-up to my bedbug blog post from a few weeks ago (which was actually a follow-up to an article from our September issue). No more follow-ups after this, I promise...

Bedbugs are still quite the nuisance to people all over the country, causing rashes and large extermination bills. According to an MSNBC article, the National Pest Management Association -- which represents around 7,000 pest control companies -- reported $258 million in revenues for 2009. In 2006, the trade group reported only $98 million in revenues.

So, what's the big deal? Bedbugs are just little bugs that just bite people and cause rashes, but they can be exterminated. This is true. But even after they're exterminated, when do people truly feel "safe" to return? With many bedbug exterminations requiring multiple procedures to successfully purify a room or building, it would be easy to imagine a few bedbug survivors bustling about. After a retail center closes down because of a bedbug infestation, most people surely won't be waiting in line to run back in there and shop -- there has to be some sort of recovery period. Imagine the possible revenue-loss during these recovery periods.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency issued a joint statement highlighting the emergency issue. The EPA also recently launched a website with bedbug information which gives a nice, general overview of bedbugs. It's great that the federal government has gotten involved, but bedbug infestations differ from one location to another, so it'll take more decisive action, smaller-scale action.

A lot of cities and counties seem to be setting up bedbug call centers and partnering with pest control companies to easy access to exterminators. But what else can be done? Are there any localities doing things out of the ordinary to fight this problem?

Andy Kim
Andy Kim | Former Staff Writer