“Sleep tight; don’t let the bed bugs bite.” The old good-night rhyme didn’t used to hold much meaning for people born after World War II. The bugs that used to be part of the daily landscape, like lice and fleas, were practically annihilated in America by DDT and other powerful pesticides in the post war years. With environmental concerns trumping creature comforts, the little nippers have been making a major comeback in recent years.
“We’re finding them [bed bugs] in luxury apartments and hotels and motels, all the way down to low-income housing,” said Susan Jones, an Ohio State University associate professor of entomology. “And it has nothing to do with being unclean.” OSU experienced a nasty bed bug infestation in several of its dorms last year.
Bed bugs are an equal opportunity nuisance. All the little blood-suckers need is a warm body to feed. They don’t care which side of the tracks it lives on. They’re accomplished travelers, hitching a ride on clothing, luggage, used furniture, mattresses, etc. That’s why they’ve become such a problem on college campuses, in multi-family apartments, nursing homes, cruise ships, hotels and motels. It just takes one guest to carry them in and before you know it, you’re overrun with the pesky critters.
While bed bugs aren’t known to carry or spread disease, their bites can become irritated and inflamed, leaving red, itchy welts. Then, of course, there’s the “creep” factor. No one likes to think about sharing their bed with the little blood-sucking vampires. But there’s hope on the horizon. Tune in next time; I can see Stern riding to the rescue!