Mythbusters: Bed bugs and filth

Nancy Troyano

In our new Mythbusters series, Rentokil’s lead entomologist, Dr. Nancy Troyano, works to debunk pest-related wives tales, internet myths, and commonly repeated incorrect information.


Bed bugs are only found in places that are considered “dirty” or have poor sanitation or are aging buildings with structural problems.

Old apartment condo building


While some pests, such as flies, are attracted to decay or the build-up of organic matter, bed bugs are not. But like many other pests, the availability of food attracts them. It just so happens that a bed bug’s preferred food source is human blood. That means that bed bugs can be found anywhere that there’s a population of people available for them to feed on – whether that’s a high-end resort, posh office building, highly-rated hospital, average home, or budget motel.

Bed bugs were nearly eradicated in the U.S. in the mid-20th century, but experienced a resurgence in the late 1990s in the U.S. A perfect storm of situations has led to their successful re-emergence: increased global travel; the boom in city life bringing people closer together; the pest management industry’s use of more environmentally-friendly, targeted products; and the evolution of the bed bug itself. Studies have found that the pests have actually adapted to the pesticides we used. By developing a thicker outer skin, they are able to resist the products.

Bed bugs travel by hitchhiking on people and objects to new locations. As they become more established, it has become easy for anyone to unknowingly transport them just about anywhere. In addition to hotels and homes, bed bugs have been found on public transportation, on planes and in airports, in offices, healthcare facilities, movie theaters, libraries, and even retail stores.

While we’ve definitively busted the myth that bed bugs are attracted to filth, there is one thing to note. As is the case with many other pest species, clutter can provide more places for bed bugs to harbor or hide, making eradicating an issue more difficult. So for the best pest management results for bed bugs or any other pest, it’s always a good idea to eliminate clutter. If you’re concerned about bed bugs in your facility, contact Rentokil today. 

To learn more about bed bugs in unexpected places, check out our other blogs:
Bed bugs in offices – yes, it can happen

Bed Bugs in Retail Stores: What you should do now

Nancy Troyano
Nancy Troyano

Nancy received her PhD in Entomology from Virginia Tech, with research primarily focused on virus transmission by mosquitoes. Nancy is also a Board Certified Entomologist, skilled in medical, veterinary and urban entomology. In 2009, Nancy began working for Rentokil North America, a billion dollar organization, where she currently serves as the Director of Operations Education and Training. Nancy is responsible for leading and supporting education and training for all lines of business and at all levels of the operation, which includes over 4500 pest technicians. She develops comprehensive academic programs and pest management courses that are utilized globally, and oversees a team that manages all of the learning and development needs of the organization. Additionally, Nancy provides ongoing technical support to field operations and acts as a subject matter expert for vector management programs.

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