- Bed bugs can stow away on your clothes, bags, and mattresses, infest your home, and lay thousands of eggs in the process.
- They feed on human blood and swell to twice their body weight.
- Despite our best efforts, bed bugs are hard to kill and infestations are only getting worse.
- Part of the problem is that bed bugs are developing resistance to pesticides, and experts worry we’re running out of options.
The children were right. A gruesome creature lurks under your bed. And yes, it wants to suck your blood…swelling to twice its size in the process.
Its name? Cimex lectularius — aka the common bed bug.
Turns out these creatures have tormented humans for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians, for example, used spells to try and fight the insect hordes. But to no avail. And while our weapons have come a long way since spell casting … we’re struggling more than ever to fend off these pesky pests.
In the 20th century, humans developed a new weapon against the bed bug. Toxic chemicals. Pesticides like DDT nearly wiped out entire populations in most Western countries. But even that wasn’t enough. By the turn of the millennium, bed bug populations resurged worldwide. And this time, they had new weapons against us. Like 15% thicker skin — to better protect against harmful pesticides. And enzymes called esterases and oxidizes. Which break down common insecticides, making them useless. In fact, researchers worry we’re running out of effective insecticides!
If that’s not terrifying enough, consider this: Just a few bed bugs can quickly turn into a dangerous infestation. Let’s say a single female spots you in the local movie theater … and hitches a ride home on your clothes. Here’s the problem: She’s pregnant. And will lay hundreds of eggs. Within just a few months, that lonesome bed bug can turn into thousands.
But most victims won’t even notice until it’s too late. Since their flat, plate-like bodies let bed bugs vanish into impossibly tight nooks and crannies. So it’s no wonder infestations are out of control! From 2004 to 2009, the New York City council reported a 2,000% increase in bedbug complaints! And although they don’t transmit disease, bed bug bites are bad news.
In one case, a 60-year-old man needed to be hospitalized for blood loss. Bed bugs can also trigger itchy rashes, which can cause skin infections at best … and deadly allergic reactions at worse. The good news is you CAN rid your home of these pests. Experts recommend hiring professional exterminators to heat your home to extreme temperatures.
The bad news? You’ll have to shell out $800 to $1,200 a pop to clear your apartment.
So until we discover a safe but cheaper way to take out every last one…it won’t be so easy to sleep tight and not let the bed bugs bite.
by Gina Echevarria and Shira Polan Dec. 28, 2018