There’s History Behind Humanity’s Battle with the Bed Bug

bed bugs bite

When we were children and drifted off to sleep, many of us were told, “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.” What may seem to be a silly expression, may feel more threatening as bed bug problems have skyrocketed in recent years. Did this old saying really have anything to do with the nasty insects we are battling today? And just how long have bed bugs been an issue for humanity?

A Historical Foe

Research suggests that bed bugs have pestered humans for thousands of years. References to the bugs are made in ancient Greek plays and fossilized bed bugs were discovered in an Egyptian site dating back 3,550 years. As time went on, bed bugs spread around Asia and Europe, before travelling with European settlers to the New World. There are documentations of bed bug problems in early America throughout the 1700s and 1800s. As time went on, the bugs steadily spread. Once train travel became popular, the bugs began to move around the U.S. much more easily.

It is during the late 1800s when the first mentions of the phrase warning against bed bugs appear. Variations on the saying appear several times in print in the U.S. during the 1880s and 1890s. While the origins of the phrase are not known exactly, it does seem to line up with the heyday of American train travel and an ever-widening spread of bed bugs. This suggests that the expression could have indeed originated an actual – albeit lighthearted – warning, urging listeners to be on guard against the biting of these pesky creatures.

The bugs continued to spread widely around the country until the 1940s, when the advent of the pesticide DDT all but wiped the bugs out in the US by the 1950s. Bed bugs became a fairly rare problem in the U.S. at this time, and would continue on that way for decades.


Unfortunately, as many Americans have witnessed firsthand, bed bugs have made a roaring comeback in the U.S. This is likely due to several factors, including an increase in international travel and the banning of DDT and other pesticides because of health and safety concerns.

In just the past ten years, calls made to exterminators regarding bed bugs have almost tripled in the U.S. Bed bugs have become a common issue in homes of all types and hotels of all types – the bed bug problem can and has affected people of every income level and across every different demographic.

Thankfully, the advent of new technology like Thermal Heat Remediation and Cryonite freezing treatment have created highly effective – and completely safe – methods for fighting the bed bugs. However, these treatments require calling in the professionals to discover the bugs and treat them thoroughly.

If you are concerned about bed bugs in your home, business, or rental properties, contact Pest Management, Inc. today. Our highly experienced team can help you manage every aspect of the fight against bed bugs – from prevention, to resident and staff education, to Bed Bug Protection Policies, to inspection with our bed bug detection dogs and finally, to comprehensive and detailed treatment by our team of professional technicians. Give us a call today to learn more and to be protected against one of humanity’s oldest foes.