A tropical species of bed bug has been found in Florida for the first time in sixty years, according to a release from researchers at the University of Florida. The bug was found in a home in Brevard County, and scientists with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences were able to confirm the finding. It’s the only confirmed case of tropical bed bugs in the state. Prior to this event, the bug has not been seen in the state since the 1940s.
Brittany Campbell, a UF/IFAS doctoral student in entomology, said in a news release that tropical bed bugs are similar to the standard variety of bed bugs, but they could potentially develop more quickly.
“This could mean that this species would develop more quickly, possibly cause an infestation problem sooner, and also could spread more rapidly,” Campbell said in a news release.
“A lot of pests that do get into Florida, a lot of them do pop up in ports,” she said. “We don’t really know where these bed bugs were introduced from.”
“I personally believe that in Florida, we have all of the right conditions that could potentially help spread tropical bed bugs, which is the case in other southern states,” Campbell said. “As long as you have people traveling and moving bed bugs around, there is a real potential for this species to spread and establish in homes and other dwellings.”
Though this is the only confirmed case in Florida, researches believe the tropical bed bugs could be found in many other parts of the state because of the species prefered tropical and sub-tropical climates make it right at home in the sunshine state.
Researchers at UF urge the public to send them samples of suspected bed bugs for indentification, to try and hault the spread of the bug before it begins in earnest.
The common bed bug lives throughout the United States and the globe, typically in more temperate climates. Before the 1990s, it kept at low levels for 50 years, via widespread use of DDT and other pesticides, the UF researchers say.
The bed bugs eventually bit back, building resistance to pesticides and resurging in the late 1990s.
A similar rebound may be at play with the tropical bed bug, the UF researchers say.
Tropical bed bugs biologically mirror common bed bugs, Campbell said. They feed on human blood, so they can cause similar health problems during severe infestations: fear, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness and itchy, blistery reactions on some people.