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What Purpose Do Bed Bugs Have?

If you have bed bugs, it’s easy to start to wonder if they serve any purpose other than irritating people. 

Although there is some debate, scientists mostly agree that bed bugs don’t have much of a purpose. No animals or insects rely on bed bugs to survive, and they don’t pollinate or eat other pests. From what science can tell, bed bugs don’t do much of anything.

Are Bed Bugs Important to the Ecosystem?

As far as scientists can tell, bed bugs are not important to any ecosystem. 

Bed bugs do not pollinate flowers like other pests, such as wasps do. 

They also don’t serve as an essential part of the food chain like mosquitos or spiders. 

The only animals that feed on bed bugs are cockroaches and spiders, but neither of these insects eats a significant amount of bed bugs. 

They mostly avoid bed bugs because bed bugs stay close to humans, and neither roaches nor spiders like to be near people. 

Bed bugs also only feed on blood, meaning they don’t control the populations of other insects in the same way that spiders do. 

So, overall, bed bugs don’t really affect ecosystems much. 

Would Anything Bad Happen if Bed Bugs Disappeared?

If we use the past as a guide, nothing terrible will happen if bed bugs disappear. 

In fact, we almost eliminated bed bugs at one point. 

Thanks to more potent insecticides produced in the years leading up to the 1950s, specifically DDT, developed countries almost completely eradicated bed bugs. 

What were once common pests that practically everyone had to deal with just disappeared. 

And nothing bad happened. 

However, bed bugs began to resurge in the 1990s because of an increase in world travel, bed bugs building a tolerance to pesticides, and the banning of strong insect sprays.  

So, now, bed bugs have come back to places where people no longer know how to deal with them, and it has caused a major issue for many people. 

Should Humans Eradicate Bed Bugs?

Well, since there isn’t any apparent reason to keep bed bugs around, whether we should eradicate them is mainly an ethics question. 

Some people argue that all creatures have a right to life, and we shouldn’t actively try to kill them. 

Yet, it seems that most people would prefer if we could just get rid of bed bugs once and for all. 

Generally, people see bed bugs as a pest and think the world would be better off without them. 

Many people believe that because bed bugs harm humans by biting them and don’t do anything for the environment, there is nothing wrong with eradicating them. 

Is it Even Possible to Eradicate Bed Bugs?

As of the moment, no one is sure if it is possible to eradicate bed bugs. 

I mean, yes, at one time, we pretty much got rid of bed bugs in most of the world. 

But they came back stronger. 

So, will we ever develop a pesticide that is cheap and effective enough to eradicate bed bugs from the entire earth?


That’s the only answer anyone has right now. 

Do Bed Bugs Do Anything Good for Humans?

Scientists have not found that bed bugs do anything good for humans. 

Do Bed Bugs Do Anything Bad to Humans?


Although bed bugs don’t spread disease, they can harm humans. 

For one, some people are allergic to them. 

Symptoms of an allergic reaction due to bed bugs include: 

  • Inflammation around bed bug bites
  • Painful bed bug bites 
  • Hives 
  • Very itchy bed bug bites 
  • Asthma 
  • Anaphylaxis 

But, even those who don’t have allergies to bed bugs can still be affected by their bites. 

For example, bed bug bites are notoriously itchy and can easily give you a rash. 

They also could cause an infection, especially if you scratch the bites too much. 

In rare cases, bed bugs have even spread parasites to people. 

Where Did Bed Bugs Originate?

Scientists believe bed bugs originated from bat bugs, which are parasites that feed on bats. 

Then, when humans began occupying the same caves as bats, some of the bat bugs began to feed on the people too. 

These bat bugs got a taste for human blood and became what we know today as bed bugs. 

So, as you can see, bed bugs have been with humans for a long time. 

In fact, scientists have found fossilized bed bugs that lived more than 3,500 years ago in the Middle East. 

We also have proof that the ancient Egyptians had to cope with these pests as well. 

Basically, humans have had to deal with bed bugs for all of recorded history. 

Are Bed Bugs All Over the World?

Yes, bed bugs exist all over the world. 

Pretty much everywhere humans exist, so do bed bugs. 

However, bed bugs are usually worse for those in developed countries because the people there sleep on mattresses. 

And it’s easy for bed bugs to take over a mattress. 

Also, bed bugs tend to be particularly bad in cities because, with all the people who live there, it is easier for them to spread. 

For example, in the United States, the places that have seen the worst bed bug outbreaks are big cities, like Chicago, New York City, and Baltimore. 

Why Was DDT Banned?

DDT was the primary chemical we used to nearly eradicate bed bugs in the second half of the 20th century. 

And when the US banned the chemical, the number of bed bugs sharply increased. 

So, why not just bring back DDT and be done with bed bugs again?

Well, the problem is that DDT harms both humans and animals. 

When humans come into contact with too much DDT, it can lead to seizures, nervous system problems, and even chromosomal damage. 

Additionally, Department of Agriculture personnel and other scientists discovered that DDT thinned birds’ egg shells to the point that the eggs burst before the chicks could hatch. 

DDT also doesn’t dissolve well in water, making it a notorious hazard for fish and other marine life. 

Plus, DDT is a particular danger to living organisms because it degrades slowly, which causes it to build up heavily in the environment. 

Can Bed Bugs Survive Without Humans?

Finally, let’s flip the question and ask, can bed bugs survive without us?

And the answer is that they probably can. 

Bed bugs can feed on any warm-blooded animal, meaning they can feast upon pretty much all mammals and birds. 

Thus, bed bugs have quite a bit of choice when it comes to getting a snack besides just people. 

However, even though bed bugs can feed without us, they don’t do that great outdoors. 

Therefore, bed bugs could potentially end up going extinct if humans do just because they can’t handle outside temperatures well and prefer to live in houses. 


Overall, scientists do not believe bed bugs have much of a purpose. 

So, many people believe that humanity should do everything possible to eradicate them. 

Unfortunately, though, it seems that only powerful insecticides can get rid of bed bugs on a mass scale. 

And as I discussed above, these potent chemicals are bad for humans and animals.