The Bed Bug Primer: Tips on Avoiding Bed Bug Drama

July 24, 2015 by Doug Moore

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Bed bug reports have sent people scurrying for relief. Some are snapping up bug killers targeted at the nighttime marauders. Others are researching do-it-yourself methods on the Internet. What they hope to find is a fast, inexpensive fix.
But don’t count on it, bed bug experts say. Unfortunately, there is no easy remedy for most bed bug infestations.
Bed bugs are always adapting and constantly becoming immune to the chemicals that exterminators use, which has led to other tactics like heating the home.
So why are bed bugs so hard to get rid of?
Largely it’s because no single insecticide that’s permitted for indoor use can kill bed bugs, writes entomologist Dini Miller in one of the fact sheets she’s developed for the state of Virginia. The government limits what kinds of pesticides can be used indoors because of the potential for harming people and pets, explains Miller, who also runs the Dodson Urban Pest Management Laboratory at Virginia Tech.
Bed bugs are hard to treat because they’re so good at hiding, she said. Their hiding places can be many and difficult to pinpoint, and they often include places that can’t be treated with insecticides.
Bed bugs can move easily, which makes control especially problematic in shared housing, such as apartment buildings.
Few people know enough about bed bug biology and behavior to control the pests effectively, said Tim McCoy, a research technician in Miller’s lab. They also don’t have access to more concentrated products and other methods that pros can use.
The products the public can buy — legally, that is — are minimally effective, McCoy said.
Those same products do nothing for a person’s mental health, which can be shaken by a bed bug infestation discovery.
Finding out you have bed bugs is devastating and it really affects your personality and your mind-set, I do a fair amount of counseling – calming people down so they’re more at ease and so they understand that it’s not the end of the world, it’s just a bug.
SEVEN TIPS FOR KEEPING BEDBUGS OUT
1. Inspect anything you bring into your home from a yard sale. Always question to see whether it came from a bedbug-infested area.
2. Stay away from refurbished mattresses or old couches.
3. If you buy a new mattress, transport it yourself. Often the same trucks used to deliver mattresses are used to haul away old ones.
4. Don’t pile guests’ coats on a bed.
5. Inspect your hotel room for bed bugs with special attention paid to the bed and its mattress and box springs. Check the headboard, especially if it’s loosely hung on the wall.
6. Wash all new clothes as well as clothes worn traveling on a hot cycle, including dryer, before wearing again or putting in your closet.
7. Always keep your possessions, including briefcases and purses, off the floor even at places like movie theaters and office complexes.
For more information about bed bugs, heat treatment, and canine bed bug scent detection, click here.
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