Bed bugs! Do you fear the blood-sucking pest may invade your home? New Yorkers certainly do as bed bugs were listed #32 on the list of New Yorkers’ Worst Fears. But, is the fear of bed bugs among the average homeowner or apartment dweller real or unfounded? Do bed bugs really only lurk in seedy motels and dirty, unkept apartments? Or, is there a real chance that the average person can end up with a bed bug infestation in their home?
Let’s take a closer look at the facts. The National Pest Management Association and the University of Kentucky released their biennial Bugs Without Borders survey last month that showed that bed bug infestations continue to be on the rise. 99.6% of pest professionals have treated for bed bugs in the last year. And where are they treating? The top two places where pest professionals report finding bed bugs are:
• Apartments/condominiums (95%)
• Single-Family homes (93%)
The findings leave the average person with real concerns over whether they can find themselves dealing with a bed bug infestation of their own. And rightfully so! How did apartments, condos and single-family homes top the list of top treatment areas for bed bugs? By understanding a bit about bed bug biology and taking a closer look at the remainder of the list, you can see just how this happens.
Bed bugs are skilled hitchhikers that can ‘lay in wait’ for some time until their next blood meal; sometimes as long as 6 – 9 months or more! They are attracted to their hosts, warm-blooded mammals and preferably humans, by the CO2, warmth and certain chemicals they give off with each breath. They can easily hitch a ride from one area to another by crawling from an infested area onto a person or their belongings. These very small, typically the size of an apple seed, pests hide in cracks and crevices so small and tight that they can easily go unnoticed. Their nocturnal tendencies frequently bring them out at night to seek out a blood meal as their host sleeps.
When we review the remainder of the list of locales treated for bed bug infestations and understand how easily bed bugs can hitchhike home on a person, you can see exactly how homes and apartments become infested. The list suggests that if you stay in a hotel; visit a nursing home; work in an office building; have a child that stays away at school or is in daycare; visit or work in a hospital or doctor’s office; utilize public transportation; shop in retail stores; or go the movies, you are at risk for picking up bed bugs.
Now that you know how and where you can pick up bed bugs how can you protect yourself?
• Begin by being aware of the signs of a bed bug infestation.
• When traveling carefully inspect the hotel room for bed bugs.
• Be a savvy traveler when using public transportation.
• Finally, take proactive preventive action at home by protecting every
bed in your home with an active bed bug liner.
As the old adage applies, when it comes to bed bugs an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Take proactive steps to avoid a bed bug infestation at home and cross bed bugs off your list of worst fears.