I’ve been getting a lot of alerts about bed bugs on my news feed, probably because Orkin is doing their annual bed bug push. On top of that, I just finished writing an article on bed bugs that should be coming out soon. So, yeah…I’ve got bed bugs front and center in my brain. Let’s look at some amusing stuff that’s still floating around out there.
Bed bugs are dangerous. Okay, there is a little bit of truth to this one but 99% false. Sure, bed bugs can bite, that’s what they do. They are not known to carry any disease though. Can you die from bed bug bites? Technically yes. If someone is in a highly infested situation and not in an altogether healthy state to begin with, over time the infestation could cause enough harm to potentially kill someone. (Did I try to find out how many bed bug bites would it take to exsanguinate a human? You bet I did! Unfortunately, no info.) On top of that, there is certainly evidence of mental anguish and this can potentially lead to delusory parasitosis. The other thing that I guess you could call “dangerous” is that recent research showed bad infestations produced a large amount of histamine which can create allergies. I guess depending on what your definition of "dangerous" is, maybe this is a little true.
You can identify bed bug bites (as compared to other bites). This one is rampant, even among pest professionals. I see it pop up on somewhat reputable websites. I hear of people being diagnosed by their doctors. There is absolutely no way to tell what bit a person unless they see the biting in action. Everyone is going to react differently. In fact, there is a pretty big percentage of people that have no reaction to bed bug bites. Even if the place is obviously infested with bed bugs, I would still hesitate to say the reactions are due to the insects. You never know what else is going on that could be causing a reaction that looks like “bites”. And that list is pretty long.
Bedbugs can fly. I’ve also had people saying they jump. They don’t have wings, they don’t have jumping legs. Just: no.
Bed bugs live on their hosts (us). While they certainly feed on humans, they do not live on humans. As soon as they are done with their dinner (or breakfast, I’m not judging), they go crawl into their little hiding spot. It’s like after eating that huge holiday meal, you want to sit on the couch and just sleep. While they don’t live on people, they are amazingly good at hitchhiking. So people can bring them with them, say in the seam of their clothes or in the crease of their bag and transfer them around that way. That’s when they start showing up in weird places like offices, libraries, and Amazon facilities.
Bed bugs mean you have a dirty house. Or apartment, hotel, motel, whatever. Again, not true: bed bugs don’t care how clean or dirty your place is. They care that you have blood and that’s pretty universal for humans. One cool study did find that they were more attracted to dirty laundry than clean laundry. This makes perfect sense because the dirty laundry had lots of human scent, while the clean laundry wouldn’t have that attractive aroma. If that dirty laundry had just been taken off a person, it is likely a bit warmer which is also attractive to the little beasts. Now just because the cleanliness of the location doesn’t make it any more likely to have bed bugs, it does make treatments harder. It's harder for treatments to penetrate through and around the "mess" so bed bugs are more likely to survive. It also helps to vacuum (aka: make your abode cleaner) and wipe down areas because that can physically remove insects, their droppings, and some eggs.
Then there are my all time favorites: home remedies and DIY’s. I could go on for pages on this one so here are the highlights of this year's search for “bed bugs, home remedy”:
Baking soda (why not baking powder??)
And your local big box home improvement stores have a plethora of products.
Take your pick of essential oils – tea tree, peppermint, citronella, lavender
Vinegar (apparently the cure for everything)
Mothballs (can actually make people ill)
Black walnut tea (WTF?)
Cayenne pepper (imagine spreading cayenne powder all over your bed? Nope, no thanks.)
And the old standard: ultrasonic device.
Just to be clear, none of the above actually work. It’s sad that this information still persists, even on some big pest control companies' websites. Can people successfully DIY their bed bug issues? I’d say it’s possible, but most people wouldn’t be able to put in the time, effort, and money to really do it right. If you are part of the hospitality or healthcare industries, you need to have a plan for what to do if bed bugs hit. If you are in the pest control industry, you should keep up to date with the current research and tools to do the job quickly and effectively.
We can help you with that, click here! Until then, good night, sleep tight, and don't let the bed bugs bite into your profits!
Lagniappe - maybe bed bugs can be beneficial!