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The pest control industry emerged around seven decades ago in the United States, and the first pest control firms in the country were largely focused on eliminating only a small number of indoor insect pests that were considered economically and socially significant at the time. These insects included bed bugs, clothes moths, carpet beetles and cockroaches. As the pest control industry evolved into the mid 20th century, urban and agricultural pest control practices became two distinct arenas.

Due to the low tolerance homeowners had for indoor bugs, urban pest control tactics aimed to completely eradicate insect pests from homes by means of heavy insecticide applications. While early reliance of insecticides like DDT nearly eradicated bed bugs from the country, and kept other pests like roaches well controlled, a few specimens always managed to survive even the most liberal insecticide applications.

These few specimens were able to survive due to their natural physiological resistance to the toxic chemicals used for pest eradication at the time. As more and more insecticide treatments were applied to common insect pests over the course of decades, the small number of resistant specimens gradually increased until they became the norm. Naturally, the most common urban pests developed the greatest resistance to the widest variety of insecticide formulations. Insects like cockroaches, bed bugs, flour beetles, and mosquitoes remain the most insecticide-resistant insect pests to this day solely because they were exposed to insecticides at the most frequent rates.

Obviously, bed bugs have once again become one of the most common urban insect pests in the US, mosquitoes have proliferated and spread to new geographic regions, and German cockroaches remain tremendously difficult to control. Fed up with the bed bug epidemic, many foolish, yet influential people around the world are pushing to have the ban on outdated insecticides like DDT lifted, as they do not seem to understand the concept of insecticide-resistance. In fact, most bed bugs today would be resistant to DDT, and those that are not would quickly be replaced by specimens that are immune to the insecticide’s toxic effects. Luckily, modern pest control professionals practice integrated pest management in order to eliminate the most insecticide-resistant insect pests from homes. This approach sees professionals practice multiple non-chemical control tactics at once while employing insecticides only as a secondary form of control.

Has your home ever been infested with insect pests that are resistant to most insecticides?