Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite!

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When I was a kid, a frequent bed time saying was “Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite!”. Bed bugs seemed to be an imagined problem that only resulted in a quirky good night salutation. Bed bugs weren’t real in our modern world, a problem of the past.

Today, bed bugs are back, a very real problem effecting households of all types, locally, regionally, and nationally. Bed bugs can become a nightmare for anyone who is experiencing an infestation.The Center for Disease Control offers information and advice.

The CDC reports that the resurgence of bed bugs is due to an increased resistance to available pesticides, increased travel both within the US and abroad, lack of adequate knowledge about pest control since the bugs were not a problem for many years, and the continuing decline or elimination of effective pest control programs at state and local public health agencies.

The Environmental Protection Agency offers some educational information about bed bugs. Common bed bug myths include:

Myth: You can’t see a bed bug.
Reality: You should be able to see adult bed bugs, nymphs and eggs with your naked eye.

Myth: Bed bugs live in dirty places.
Reality: Bed bugs are not attracted to dirt and grime; they are attracted to warmth, blood and carbon dioxide. However, clutter offers more hiding spots.

Myth: Bed bugs transmit diseases.
Reality: There have been no cases or studies that indicate bed bugs pass diseases from one host to another.

Myth: Bed bugs won’t come out if the room is brightly lit.
Reality: While bed bugs prefer darkness, keeping the light on at night won’t deter these pests from biting you.

Myth: Pesticide applications alone will easily eliminate bed bug infestations.
Reality: Bed bug control can only be maintained through a treatment strategy that includes a variety of techniques plus careful attention to monitoring. Proper use of pesticides may be part of the strategy, but will not by itself eliminate bed bugs. In addition, bed bug populations in different areas of the country have developed resistance to the ways many pesticides work to kill pests. If you’re dealing with a resistant population, some products and application methods may only make the problem worse. It is a good idea to consult a qualified pest management professional (PMP) if you have bed bugs in your home.

Bed bugs will travel to adjacent units in apartment complexes. The pests frequently hitch a ride home in suitcases during travel. Non-chemical heat treatments appear to be the most effective in eliminating infestations. A preventive measure to prevent an infestation after travel includes placing suitcases and other travel items in a sealed bag and leaving them in the sun for several hours so heat kills the pests. Clothing and other dryer-safe items can be laundered and placed in the dryer for at least an hour to eliminate the problem.

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