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Many of you might already be cringing at the title, but there is more to bed bugs than just their grossness. In fact, some of the news might even sound better than what you originally thought they were capable of!
Last year, bed bugs put New York City on their radar. We started hearing about lots of cases in dorms and hotels. This year, Philadelphia has moved up to the top spot in bed bug infestation news. If you look at many of the top seated areas on the list, they are heavily populated, heavily traveled, and act as hubs for their general economic areas. More people + more travel = more bed bugs.
Bed Bugs are ecto-parasites, meaning they stay above the skin and eat & run. They are travel professionals, easily moving undetected from place to place thanks to their tiny flat bodies, which allow them to hide practically anywhere. They are a non-discriminatory bug, who survives by ingesting the blood of animals and humans in order to survive. Most of the time, they do this while their host is sleeping (Get it? “Sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite!").
They are indeed gross but there is some good news to these creepy little guys. First, they don't carry diseases. Get bit 1 time or 100,000 times and other than painful itching and horrible red bumps, you will be fine. Second, they are easy to get rid of. While store-bought bed bug spray or bug bombs may not work every time, they are a good place to start. If that doesn't work call an exterminator and they can pick up where you left off.
You can get bed bugs out of linens by washing them in extremely hot water. The laundromat is the best place to do this as their water temperatures are usually much higher. This will kill the bed bugs and remove most of them from the fabric. If you feel the need, you can wash the linens more than once and you can use bleach on appropriate fabrics. If you have items that are not washable, put them into a dryer on a 30 minute cycle, or longer if you prefer, as long as the exposure won't harm the materials.
There are many other ways to handle clean-up after a bed bug infestation including fervent vacuuming, filling in wall cracks and holes where bugs can hide, and clearing clutter from around your bed.
While bed bugs may not be our friends, they are certainly much more manageable than some pests like head lice or scabies. Don't panic if you realize you have a bed bug infestation. They are sneaky little creatures who enjoy house-hopping, and most importantly they do not pose risk of disease to you through bites. However, as soon as you realize you have an infestation don't wait! Get it taken care of and save yourself and family the pain and irritation of those annoying little bites.Sources: Bed Bug Bully: http://www.bedbugbully.com/ Albany Times Union: http://www.timesunion.com/business/press-releases/article/Philadelphia-Tops-2012-Ranking-for-Most-Bed-Bug-3647898.php WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/bedbugs-infestation?page=2 Scabies vs. Bed Bugs: http://health.nv.gov/HCQC/Scabies_PowerPointSlideShowView.pdf