Bed bugs are becoming more and more common in homes all across America. "Don't let the bedbugs bite!" is no longer a joke because millions of people are waking up with small bites all over their bodies. Bedbugs are also becoming more common in public places like museums, schools, and libraries. You can help to stop the spread of the bedbug by employing a few simple tactics in your life.
Are bedbugs dangerous?
Well, no, but also yes. Most health professionals don't yet see bedbugs as a health concern, as far as the bugs themselves go. But, because bedbugs are invading spaces all over North America, people are using more chemicals and pesticides to stop them. These pesticides are potentially hazardous to people's heath. Also, as the bed bugs are treated more frequently, they are growing more immune to traditional eradication methods, meaning that greater strength and volume of killing agents are needed.
The Center for Disease Control actually issued a health advisory, because many homeowners will buy commercial grade pesticides meant for outdoor use only, and use them indoors as a drastic measure for bedbug removal. However, these chemical should be left in the hands of pest control professionals, as they can can cause health problems like nausea, muscle tremors, and nerve damage.
Also, some scientists speculate that, even though there has not yet been any disease associated with bedbugs, they still pose a threat, especially as they become more widespread. Bedbugs' main food supply is human blood, which causes the annoying bites. Like mosquitoes, if bedbugs feed from more than one person, the chances of infection may begin to rise.
What can you do to stop the spread?
Sometimes, contracting a bedbug infestation in your own home is inevitable. But, you can make a few things habitual that will at least make it harder for the critters to move from one home to the next.
- Stay away from public places you know are affected until they have been fumigated. Your favorite book at the library will have to wait.
- Wash all clothes in extremely hot water in order to kill bugs and their eggs.
- Wash your sheets and towels weekly.
- Buy encasements for mattresses. Bedbugs hide in the crevices of mattresses and pillows, emerging to eat, and then retreating again. You may not be able to reach them with pesticide applications. An encasement seals the bugs inside the mattress. Eventually the bugs will starve to death.
- After vacuuming, dispose of lint with care, as vacuumed bugs and eggs are not often killed by a household vacuum. You can kill bugs by freezing vacuum lint, or by burning it in your wood stove or fire pit.
- When cleaning, microwave all rags and sponges to kill any bedbugs you might have swept up with your cloth. Also, you can put dusters and lint cloths in the dryer after every use to make sure no bugs make these tools their new home.
- Use pesticides with the guide of a professional. Some furniture can be damaged by direct pesticide application. Other types of pesticides have been overused and may not be as effective, especially if the bed bug is more resistant. The most effective pesticides stay active for many days, allowing one application to kill many bugs who come in contact with it.
- Take care when moving or visiting others. Before you move, wash everything you own, even if you aren't aware of any bedbugs. Bedbugs can hitch rides on furniture and live in the moving truck, therefore infecting the next person's things. Then, when you move into your new place, wash everything again, in case you picked up a bed bug during the ride.
Bedbugs continue to travel from home to home. However, you don't have to contribute to the problem. By understanding the risks, depending on the advice of professionals, and being vigilant about your own lifestyle, you will hopefully live free of the bed bug scourge.