“Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite!” Who knew that someday that would actually be something you had to worry about? Sadly, bedbugs are all over the news these days, making appearances at summer camps, movie theaters, the Empire State Building, and retail stores like Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, and Victoria’s Secret. And, according to the Congressional Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite Act of 2009, U.S. bedbug populations have increased by 500 percent in the past few years.
We went to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) for the 411 on these nightmare-inducing creepy-crawlies. Here’s what we learned:
- Bedbugs feed on human and animal blood. When they bite, itchy, red welts often form as an allergic reaction to the bite, but the bugs aren’t known to transmit any diseases.
- Bedbugs are everywhere. Pest control companies have reported finding them from coast to coast, and everywhere in between. They’ve been found in single-family homes, apartments, hotels (from five-star resorts to budget motels), hospitals, college dormitories, libraries, and more.
- Bedbugs are hard to treat. According to the NPMA, they are “elusive, transient, and nocturnal” – and they can hide just about anywhere in your home, from the bed, to couch cushions, to behind picture frames and wall sockets.
- Bedbugs are hardy. Not only are they good at hiding, they’re really good at surviving. They can go for a year or longer without eating and can withstand temperatures from nearly freezing to almost 113 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Bedbugs like to hitchhike. They are adept at traveling and can easily hitch a ride on suitcase and travel home with a child from summer camp or a parent from a business trip. In preparation for any future hotel stays, check out this NPMA video on how to inspect your hotel room for bedbugs.
- Bedbug extermination requires professional help. This is not a DIY project, especially given how long the bugs can survive without food. If you suspect you may have bedbugs, contact a licensed pest professional to determine if you have an infestation.
For more info on what parents who are, uh, buggin’ out can do to prevent these sneaky little devils, check out this recent piece on what families need to know about bedbugs.