We just celebrated another great birthday for America. We shared barbecue, fireworks and apple pie, but one thing we don’t celebrate is the resurgence of bed bugs across the country.
These tiny, persistent pests have troubled people for millennia. Until recently, though, bed bug infestations were a rare occurrence in the United States. Many people thought they had been all but eradicated. Then about ten years ago, it seemed that you couldn’t turn on the local news in any American city without hearing about a bed bug infestation. Exterminators who had never dealt with bed bugs suddenly got multiple calls per month to get rid of these tiny insects.
Unlike a lot of the other types of pest infestation, bed bugs have nothing to do with how clean your home is. Typically, homeowners bring bed bugs into their own homes when staying in hotels, dorms or someone else’s house. Bed bugs are an American problem through and through, showing up in every state in the nation. If you ever stay away from your home, or invite guests to stay with you, you could potentially get bed bugs.
As their name suggests, most bed bugs live close to the bed where their host sleeps. These tiny vampires suck blood from their hosts, causing itchy bite marks in about 70% of the population (the other 30% has no reaction to the bites). They are nocturnal and can infiltrate any type of building from an apartment to a single-family home, to an office building.
Avoid at all costs
You can dramatically reduce your risk of bringing bed bugs into your home with a few careful tips:
- Check the mattress and box spring and sheets for any live bugs or speckling bed bug droppings that can look like mold or black pepper before you unpack or use the bed at a hotel. If you find tiny black dots, ask to be moved to a room on another floor (and inspect there too!), or consider finding another place to stay.
- When you get home, wash everything in your suitcase. Vacuum the interior of your suitcase, or put the whole thing in a sealed garbage bag.
- Never buy bedding or upholstered furniture used.
- Resist the urge to sleep in a different room if you think you have bed bugs, as this can actually cause the bugs to spread farther when looking for blood.