There was a time, not so very long ago, when bed bugs were considered all but extinct in the West. These blood-sucking parasites had been so reduced in numbers that many families in the US thought of them as nothing more than characters in a bedtime lullaby. How wrong we were. Over the last few decades bed bugs have made a startling return to these shores, and they are now one of the most pervasive and frustrating pests in the Americas.
A great many factors have contributed to the resurgence of the bed bug. People travel more often, and to farther flung areas of the world, than ever before. This leads to travelers being put into contact with bed bugs and other pests that may have less of a presence in the United States. An expansion of trade with countries around the world means that a greater variety of products are shipped into the US from countries that may have yet to successfully come to terms with their insect populations. This creates an avenue for bed bugs and other insects to make it on to our shores. It’s really not too unusual to find these pests coming into the country along with cargo from some of our international trading partners.
Bed Bugs Do Not Exist in Isolation
Of course, bed bugs don’t exist in isolation. Like any creature they are part of a larger ecosystem, and like all other creatures on the planet they have their own share natural predators. Over the years, however, the dominant species on the planet (that would be you and me by the way) has made a concerted effort to eliminate many of the pests that plague our homes and neighborhoods. That is, and was, a perfectly reasonable approach to our own environment. But like so many things in life there are unintended consequences that come into play. Many. of the bed bugs’ natural predators are themselves pests that we actively try to eliminate, and so we have created an environment where bed bugs can thrive and multiply without threat from their natural enemies.
This brings us the purpose of our latest little essay, a brief look at some of the bed bugs’ natural predators. Of course, these are pest that are no more welcome in our homes then the bed bugs they consume. Still, it’s good to know humans aren’t the only creatures on Earth who count the bed bug as a natural enemy.
Spiders and Bed Bugs
It’s probably fair to say that spiders aren’t much more popular than bed bugs. When it comes right down to it most of us would rather we didn’t find either in our homes. But as much as we may dislike spiders they do have an appetite for bed bugs. To be honest, spiders have an appetite for darn near any insect. But there are certain species of spider that have a particular taste for bed bugs.
The Cobweb Spider and the Philodromid Spider (both native to North America) are positively fond of bed bugs. They have been observed catching bed bugs in their webs, capturing them, and saving them for a later feast. They consider bedbugs a delicacy of sorts. Of course, these spiders can’t eat enough of the blood-sucking pests to make any kind of real dent in a full-scale infestation, so as a bed bug deterrent they aren’t overly helpful. In other words, if you find you have spiders and bed bugs, don’t expect the former to eliminate the latter. Call in a pest removal service immediately.
Pharaoh Ants and Bed Bugs
There are more than 12,000 known species of ants in the world. That alone might make some of our collective skins crawl. Like spiders, ants will eat almost anything and that includes other insects. The Pharaoh Ant has a particular taste for bed bugs, and will gladly feast on them given the opportunity. Like bed bugs themselves, the Pharaoh Ant is a common household pest and can be found in homes across the US and Canada. They reproduce at an alarming rate and left untreated can become an infestation all on their own.
So, while Pharaoh Ants may be fond of eating bed bugs it’s probably not much of a bargain trading an infestation of ants for an invasion of bed bugs. Frankly, the ants wouldn’t eat enough of the bed bugs to earn their keep anyway. So, again, if you find either of these pests in your home or office call in a professional toot suite.
Cockroaches and Bed Bugs
There are a number of different cockroach species that are known to prey on bed bugs. Although to be fair most cockroaches are content to eat just about anything. That being said, American Cockroaches, Oriental Cockroaches and German Cockroaches have all been observed trapping and eating bed bugs. In ideal circumstances bed bugs would form a primary part of their diet. Of course, no one really wants a house full of cockroaches any more than they want a home crawling with bed bugs. Moreover, cockroaches (like ants and bed bugs) are quick to breed and reproduce. Left unchecked an infestation of cockroaches can do as much damage, if not more, as an invasion of bed bugs.
So, again, we can’t depend on cockroaches to solve our bed bug problems. If you find you have a growing problem with cockroaches in your home or office you need to call in an exterminator sooner than later.
Lizards and Bed Bugs
Last on our list of bed bug predators is the lizard. Geckos to be precise. These small lizards have a fondness for bed bugs and will eat them whenever they get the chance. The good news is the geckos do not breed as fast as the other predators on our list, and so you are unlikely to be overrun by a hungry colony of bed bug starved lizards. They are also relatively clean and do not spread harmful bacteria in the way that cockroaches and ants do. Having said that, geckos can be hazardous to the health of some household pets. While they are not strictly poisonous, they do contain liver flukes that can seriously harm cats and other household pets if ingested.
While lizards are perhaps the most friendly predator on our lists they still can’t rid of us of a bed bug infestation. There is no way a gecko, or even a family of geckos, could successfully eliminate enough bed bugs to make them an effective solution to a home invasion of blood sucking insects.
Spiders, ants and lizards may all be fond of snacking on the odd bed bug to three but they can’t really serve as a natural deterrent to a full-scale bed bug infestation. Bed bugs multiply far to fast for these predators to keep their numbers under control, and even if they could we would essentially just be trading one unwanted pest for another. In the final analysis, if you find you have a bed bug infestation in your home or office the only reasonable thing to do is call in a professional bed bug removal service. Only then can you be certain you have dealt with the problem effectively and have taken steps to eradicate the infestation before it can get any further out of hand.