We have told our kids “sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite,” and really never given it a thought. I’ve never even seen a bed bug, so I’ve had to do a little research about these critters. When news headlines are about the infestation of bed bugs, it’s bad, but not as bad as being taken over by aliens from outer space.
New York City, Philadelphia, Detroit, Cincinnati, and Chicago are listed as the Top Five bed bug-infested cities in the United States, according to Terminix, based on volume of calls they have received throughout the country so far this year. We have seen it on the news in our area of Texas, and read reports that these bugs are rampant all over the United States.
How has this happened? Well, it’s actually pretty easy, on the part of the bugs. Seems they really like to travel. More people are traveling all over the world, and don’t realize that they may be giving the bugs a free ride back to the States, and to their own homes. Then they also may be furnishing transportation to them to their office, church, library, or elsewhere. Cleanliness (or lack of it) is not the cause of bed bugs. Many people hesitate to call professional pest control because they are embarrassed. These tiny bugs are attracted to human bodies and act as small vampires, feeding on their blood! The bites they may leave are more harmless than mosquito bites. Most of the time, the worst thing that could happen is infection from scratching the bite. (You might want to keep some benadryl or antihistimine on hand in case of an allergic reaction.)
When you are traveling, don’t put your suitcases on the floor, but on a luggage rack. Bed bugs can hide in furniture, cracks and crevices, clothing, and they love traveling by ship, plane, or rail cabins, or staying in the nicest five-star hotels. They also live in dormitories, summer camps, apartment buildings, hospitals, and movie theaters. Tiny little critters, bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed. When checking your bedding, you may see their droppings, which are roughly the size of a flake of black pepper.
When you return from a trip, try to unpack your belongings in the garage and place them in a plastic bag, until you can inspect them. Washing laundry (especially bedding) in hot water and drying it in a hot dryer will kill bed bugs. Don’t try to eradicate them with do-it-yourself sprays, as it may just encourage them to move on to your neighbors’ house or apartment, rather than get rid of them. You’d be getting rid of them, but at someone else’s expense. These bugs are not interested in living in unsanitary conditions, they just want to be where we humans are.
Keep your eye out for these invasive reddish-brown little bugs. Seek professional pest-control help. Then you can “sleep tight, knowing they’re not there to bite!”