Most of us have heard the expression, “Sleep tight; don’t let the bed bugs
bite.” In recent years, this folksy turn of phrase has taken on a
disturbingly literal meaning. Reports of bed bug infestation rose more than
70% since 2001. It’s unclear why they have made such a startling
resurgence but there are ways to avoid becoming an ongoing victim of these
What are they?
Bed bugs, or “Cimex lectularius” in the nasty name of science, were put on this Earth to terrify you. Warm blood is the only substance they consume. Scarier still,
the tiny lil’ vampires are extremely difficult to spot. Bed bugs are nearly
invisible to the naked eye.
A fully-grown bug is a scant 4 millimeters
long. To put that in perspective, the iPhone 5 is 7.6 millimeters thick.
The pests even learn your sleeping habits and will attack regardless of the
time of day. Did I mention that females of the species can lay 500 eggs in
their lifetime? THAT IS HORRIFYING!
Are you freaked out yet? Well, buckle up because it gets even worse. Bed
bugs can survive for a full year without eating. Like in a nightmare? Yep!
Houses and apartments on the market can be actively infested even when
unoccupied for months. Another common breeding ground is hotels. Bed bugs
are like hitchhikers; they sneak into a passing suitcase and catch a ride
to the next destination. Other hotspots include dormitories, schools,
theaters, offices, hospitals, stores, trains, buses, taxis, and just about
anywhere else people pass through in large numbers. Is there any way to
control this exsanguinous scourge? Is all hope lost?
Prevention and Detection of Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are blood-sucking monsters created by the devil himself BUT THEY
WILL NOT KILL YOU. The first step to protection is detection. If you think
you might have an infestation, lift up your sheets and take a look. Adult
bugs are reddish-brown with flat bodies about the size of an apple seed.
They will likely be hiding in any crevices available so grab a flashlight
and start looking in the deepest, darkest recesses of your bed. Small
bloodstains on your sheets are also an indication of a bed bug problem.
If you do find yourself with an infestation, don’t take it personally. Bed
bugs are not drawn to dirty homes any more than immaculate ones. However,
it is wise to reduce clutter around the house to minimize the number of
hiding spots for the pests. When fighting bed bugs, make sure you have the
right weapons. “Bug bombs” or ”foggers” have NOT proven to be effective
because the bugs will simply hide from them. Any products that claim to
eradicate bed bugs should have an endorsement from the Environmental
Protection Agency or you may be combating vampire bugs with snake oil. A
“bed bug encasement” for your mattress or box spring is a good investment
since it protects against hiding pests but it still can’t protect against
critters jumping from behind headboards and nightstands. To truly get rid of bed bugs is no easy feat.
Bed bugs are a common plight due to the hitchhiking of the bugs and the
ignorance of the hosts. Always search a new home/apartment for bed bugs.
Keep bags sealed in public places and steam clean the bag and the laundry
upon arriving home. Check reviews of bed bug hot spots online for any
mention of trouble. Finally, if your home is infested with tiny
bloodsuckers, contact a professional to eradicate them. They are just bugs
after all. Invisible, death-proof, blood-sucking, monstrous bugs.