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It turns out that two things people like: safer pesticides and world travel, are to blame for the resurgence in bedbug populations. Back in the days when it was thought old-fashioned insecticides like DDT weren’t all that dangerous to humans, they became very scarce indeed. But in recent decades, the particularly harmful pesticides have been taken off the market because we recognize their dangers. The hardy little bugs then gradually became resistant to the less harmful pesticides, turning them into tough-to-kill little monsters.
At the same time, global travel became the norm rather than the exception, and budget travellers making use of motels and backpackers hostels may have been the unwitting carriers who brought bed bugs into their homes after returning from their adventures.
“Researchers found that bedbugs just love dirty laundry, and you know how it is when you’re travelling. There are always a few items of dirty washing in your luggage. So if you’re staying in a place with tropical bedbugs, a relatively new species on the Australian scene, and there’s dirty laundry in your bag, you might just pick up some unwelcome hitchhikers,” says Mr Maddocks.