Good night, sleep tight,
Don’t let the bedbugs bite.
And if they do
Then take your shoe
And knock ‘em ‘til
They’re black and blue!
The well-known bedtime rhyme that accompanied many of us on our journey down the hall to our bedrooms each night is on its way to becoming a stark reality. Since the late 1990’s incidents of bed bug infestations have been on the increase throughout the country. This resurgence has not been limited to the United States but has been documented throughout much of the world.
So what is a bed bug and why the resurgence?
Bed bugs are nocturnal blood-feeding parasites, about the size of a tick, that
prefer to feed on humans. Unlike other blood sucking pests bed bugs are not known to transmit disease. Depending on your tolerance to insect salvia, these bites may develop into itchy welts. Bites generally appear in a row, often in threes. These three bites are often referred to as “breakfast, lunch and dinner”.
Bed bugs hide during the day in dark, protected sites. They live close to areas where people typically sleep, rest, or sit for long periods. Bed bugs like to hide in the cracks and electrical outlets in walls, behind wallpaper, base boards and picture frames, between beds and around the creases of mattresses and in bedding materials.
Bed bugs accompanied early colonist on their way to America, probably aboard the Mayflower. By the early 20th century the infestation was complete, they were so prominent that they were considered one of the top three household pests. Some cities had infestation in as much as 1/3 of all residences. In the 1950’s DDT and other pesticides were used to eliminate the problem. Bed bugs infestations became an occasional problem rather than the norm.
In the mid 1990’s bed bugs began reappearing in motels and hotels, even five star ones, apartments, homes and hospitals. Why? Entomologists and pest control professionals have developed some theories, but really, no one knows for sure: Increased worldwide travel; Changing the way insecticides are applied from a spray to bait (baits are specific for certain pests such as cockroaches and ants, and there are no baits for blood-feeding insects like bed bugs); People’s concerns about toxicity — which can cause reluctance to use insecticides or lead people to switch to less potent insecticides; Lack of public awareness due to their prolonged absence. For whatever reason it’s important to be aware of the problem, especially when traveling. For additional information about bed bugs and their control, please see the following Web sites: