Bed bugs evoke the image of 1800 dirt-encrusted flophouses, not lovely upper middle-class suburban homes in classy Arlington, Virginia. Tell that to Washington Post reporter Daniela Deane who recently recounted her close encounter with the dreaded Cimex Lectularius, the evil bed bug. Click here to read the whole story.
Sick and in bed, Deane started breaking out in itchy red welts. She was incredulous when her doctor told her it was bed bugs. That’s the reaction most people have, but bed bugs are equal opportunity pests. “They’re not like roaches and flies that feed on filth,” advises Michael Potter, a University of Kentucky entomologist and leading bed bug expert. “You can have a very, very fine hotel, with a guest who comes in with bed bugs in their stuff, and you’re off to the races.”
Expert hitchhikers, bed bugs can enter your home on luggage, clothing, pillows, linens, used furniture — anything that’s recently come in contact with the little blood suckers. Bed bugs can survive away from their human food source for up to a year without feeding! Deane figures they invaded her life during a Manhattan hotel stay.
Deane’s reaction was typical, if extreme. She dragged her king-sized bed, duvet, sheets and pillows outside and threw everything away. (Not recommended, by the way, and a good way to spread the problem.) “Most people just flip out when they realize they have bed bugs,” said Richard Cooper, co-author of Bed Bug Handbook: The Complete Guide to Bed Bugs and Their Control. “They can’t emotionally deal with keeping an infested mattress.”
Next time: What to do when bed bugs visit you.