Bedbugs are notoriously resistant to pesticides, but exterminators can eradicate the little buggers with heat treatment. Unfortunately, even after the infestation has ended, the bed bugs leave something nasty behind, high levels of histamines.
To those of us with allergies, we are all too familiar with histamines. They are the chemicals responsible for allergic and other immune reactions. In homes that had been treated for bed bugs, North Carolina State University research shows that, histamine levels were up to 20 times higher than in homes that had never been infested. Though the bugs themselves are gone, histamines from the bugs can linger in household dust for months following eradication.
Bedbugs produce histamines as a way of communicating with one another for mating or warning purposes. Histamines are excreted in waste and left behind where bedbugs have made their homes.
For the North Carolina State University study, researchers collected samples from 14 apartments that had previously had bed bugs, and nine that didn’t, from an apartment building. Also collected were samples from five different houses that had no history of bedbugs, to serve as a control (since the other nine non-infested samples were in the same building as the previously infested samples).
The researchers found that after three months, homes that had been successfully treated for bedbugs had an average of 54.6 micrograms of histamines per 100 milligrams of dust. Homes that never had bed bugs only had about 2.5 micrograms.
The study didn’t look at how these chemicals may have been affecting the people living in the homes that once had bed bugs and not much previous work on the effects of bedbug histamines on people has been done. However given the amount of information available on other types of histamines, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if people living in homes with previous bed bug infestations dealt with symptoms consistent with allergies after their homes were treated for bed bugs.
One more reason to avoid bringing bed bugs into your home at all costs if you can. If you do end up suffering from an infestation, it may be best to bring in a deep cleaning crew to get rid of any remaining dust after exterminators kill and remove all the insects.
If you suspect a pest infestation in your home, contact Earth Guard Pest Services at: