How to Protect Yourself from Bed Bugs
“Good night! Sleep tight! Don’t let the bed bugs bite!” was a common saying for children growing up in the last few decades, but the bed bugs were not a real issue until recently. The insects were eradicated in many developed countries by the 1940′s, but more and more bed bug infestations are creeping into homes carried in by furniture infested with dormant bed bugs, returning home from a vacation where bed bugs lay eggs in luggage, or through other means. Because bed bugs have become resistant to pesticides and many pesticides that were once used, such as DDT, are no longer in use, the resurgence of the pest is becoming a more wide spread issue in the United States and Canada. Here are a few tips on how to protect your home from bed bugs and how to identify if you have bed bugs.
How to Protect Your Home from Bed Bugs
Because bed bugs are a parasitic insect makes it more important to keep them out of your home than other insects such as ants or spiders. The bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) feed off the blood of humans and other warm blooded animals. The bugs are more active at night time although they are not always nocturnal. The insects often live in the beds of humans because of the consistent access to a food source. While people sleep, the bed bugs are attracted to the release of carbon dioxide and by the warmth of the human body.
To prevent an outbreak in your home, you must be cautious about what you bring in your home. Taking used furniture, particularly bed frames and mattresses, couches and chairs, from an unknown source may lead to an infestation because the insects can lay eggs in the cracks and crevices of the furniture and hatch once moved into your home. The furniture may also have mature insects that can remain dormant for at least a year without feeding. Take precautions and learn the history of your furniture before you bring it into your home.
How to Stay Away from Bed Bugs
Another way to prevent bed bugs is to keep away from them. This may be easier said than done. So far, I have not been able to track any mandatory reporting system for hotels or other establishments that become infested. The bed bug registry is a voluntary site where people who have encountered the insects can report infestations, but often the bugs will go unreported in residential areas. The reason people do not talk about the bugs is based on a decline in home value if an outbreak occurs and the misconception that the bugs are associated with lower classes. While this may be true in some circumstances, keeping your home clean can help to eliminate a possible outbreak.
Keeping the bugs out is the best home defense. When you travel and are staying in a hotel, you should search the web for bed bugs at your hotel (see if anyone has any reports) prior to going, ask the front desk when you arrive (if an infestation was reported in the hotel, it would seem the company would have an obligation to warn customers), and check your room.
If you know someone who is experience a problem, talk with them before they come to visit you. Make sure they don’t bring any bags to include purses, backpacks, paper bags, or boxes. They should also avoid bringing in any pillows or blankets or anything that could potentially harbor the insects and spread the problem to your home.
Stay aware of problems occurring at work. People can spread the insects from their home, to their place of work, and to other employees who then take them home. Since people typically do not sleep overnight at their office, the bed bugs will break their cycle and feed during the daytime. If you are being bitten while sitting at your computer at work, you may want to question the bites and inspect your area for bed bugs.
Shopping can also lead to infestations. Many stores such as Abercrombie and Fitch, Victora’s Secret and Hollister have reported isolated outbreaks along with other public places such as libraries, hospitals, and the Empire State Building. Airlines and any other place where masses of people frequent can transmit the insects.
Take the time to protect your home to prevent an outbreak. Know the history of your furniture, inspect everything you bring into your home, and politely ask guest not to bring items over.
Do you have any question or concerns? Feel free to post comments or questions.