Bed bug infestations, virtually unheard of through most of the 20th century, have been increasing since 2001. They are a greater problem for the poor who are unable to afford costlier and effective extermination treatments.
Bed bug infestations have forced libraries and stores to close. They have required costly eradication methods in retirement homes and institutions where people reside.
These tiny creatures, usually not a health risk, create havoc and fear. A bed bug infestation can mean destruction of most personal possessions and furniture.
They emerge at night and feed on blood much like mosquitos. They survive in books, clothing or furniture for inordinately long periods of time. Most people don’t even react to them. They are difficult to detect and trace.
The biggest problem is getting rid of them. They have survived for millennia and overcome virtually all eradication efforts. They have a stronger survival instinct than the cockroach.
Most people never see bed bugs. They come out at night and are attracted to the carbon dioxide we exhale when sleeping. The most obvious signs are red bites on the skin and black marks on the bed.
The most effective pesticides against bedbugs, including DDT, are banned. All other known pesticides are ineffective against them. While some may use diatomaceous earth, a chalky substance that clogs up their internal systems, this can be a danger to humans when inhaled.
The only remaining solutions to attempt without professional assistance are to place possessions in plastic bags, continuously vacuum and pull beds away from walls. In the end this is all of limited effectiveness. Most people are forced to replace many of their personal belongings.
Fortunately, bed bugs are not very tolerant of heat. Tossing clothing in a dryer set on high for an hour will kill bedbugs. Pest control professionals use heat treatments to deal with larger infestations.
For more information on bed bugs, see the Condo Archives – Condo Building Management, subheading Pest Control.
For assistance identifying pest control professionals Condo Resource Guide can help. Look under Pest Control.