Warning: This series of articles may make you slightly squeamish….but wouldn’t you rather be informed than completely ignorant about such an important epidemic?
Please, keep reading.
Regardless of your socioeconomic status, the cleanliness of your home, or any other tangible factor, you could be at risk for a Cimex lectularius infestation–more commonly referred to as the common bed bug. From five-star hotels to university dorms to luxury multifamily condo buildings, our four-part series will teach you what how to protect yourself, your home, your sleep sanctuary, and your family from these undeniably revolting, little critters.
The Bed Bug Epidemic
While the topic is surely an unsavory one, the bed bug epidemic that has been sweeping through North America is not to be ignored. According to Phys.Org:
“…(A) 2015 survey from the National Pest Management Association revealed that 99.6 percent of pest controllers reported having treated for bedbugs in the past year, compared to 25 percent of respondents just 15 years earlier. In that same survey, 68 percent of professionals pointed to bedbugs as being the most difficult pest they encounter.”
With the bed bug epidemic on the rise and infestations becoming more and more difficult to treat, early detection is more important than ever before. And, even if your property isn’t infested, you can easily and unknowingly introduce this pest to your home by sleeping elsewhere. If you have an upcoming vacation, work trip, or other situation where a sleepover is in order, know the warning signs so that you can be on the lookout for signs of bed bugs and their eggs.
How to Identify the Problem
…when you’re at home:
Your home is a very sacred place; your bedroom, a sleep sanctuary where you find respite from the pressures of the outside world. When unwanted guests intrude, this delicate divide is breached causing restlessness, insomnia, and anxiety.
Hopefully, your home is free and clear, but, if you’re unsure, here are the top four, tell tale signs of an infestation.
- Small spots of excrement about the size of a pencil point. Their blurred edges may resemble the way a marker bleeds on fabric.
- Similar sized, tiny oval eggs. They are about 1 mm in diameter and pale yellow.
- Red stains on your sheets or bedding. When these blood-engorged insects are crushed, they leave behind nasty–but evidentiary–stains.
- Live bed bugs. According to EPA.gov, bed bugs are only about the width of a credit card and, when not gorged with blood from a recent feeding, about the size of an apple seed.
…when you’re in a hotel:
According to Gwen Pearson, self-proclaimed “science writer and insect evangelist,” you should arrive at your hotel room prepared to launch a full-scale investigation. But first…put your luggage in the bathtub.
In case you do find an infestation, the Purdue University Department of Entomology Education and Outreach Coordinator assures us that the bathroom is likely the safest place to protect your luggage from cross contaminating your next destination. With little room for bed bugs to hide and typically the area most attended to by the cleaning staff, the bathtub can house your bags until you find (or hopefully not find) what it is you’re looking for.
In her article for Wired.com, Pearson identifies exactly what she would do when checking into a hotel room:
“Pull the bed away from the wall, if possible. Headboards fastened to the wall next to the bed are a great place for a flat little insect to stay. Shine your flashlight behind headboards and under beds. Strip the bed, right down to the mattress and bed springs to see what’s underneath the sheets and mattress pad. Lift the mattress and box springs up and look underneath. If it’s a platform bed, inspect carefully under the springs and around the base. Pay special attention to the seams of mattresses and the box springs. These are spots the bugs like to hide in.”
Now that you know how to identify the presence of bed bugs, continue onto Part 2 for some of the most common myths about bed bug infestations.