Aaahh!!! Bed Monsters

22 Oct

When I think about bed bugs, The Twilight Zone’s theme song immediately comes to mind.

Here’s why I’m slightly amused: as children we grow up worrying about the monsters under our bed. Our parents, clearly irritated by our “naive” adolescent anxieties, ensure us that there are NO monsters and we are coaxed to sleep. AND THEN ONE DAY in your 20s, you learn there has been a bed bug infestation in your city and you think to yourself: Wait a sec, there’s actually no difference between bed bugs and monsters… and everything you’ve ever learned growing up has been a complete and utter lie. At this point an existential crisis ensues, anxieties form and on top of it all, you might be sleeping with the enemy.

AT ANY RATE, bed bugs are pretty scary, and it is Halloween time, so let’s indulge, shall we?

First of all, if you’ve had a bed-bug outbreak in your home, you might be thinking: “Hey, I’m a CLEAN person. This is bologna.”  My answer to that is #1. Deli meat and bed-bugs have nothing in common. #2. Unless of course you’re feeding your bed-bug infested pet bologna in your bed.

What you need to know about bed-bugs:

  • Bed bugs are nocturnal parasites that feed on blood. (i.e. Vampires)
  • Bed bugs prefer dwellings inhabited by other animals or humans which is why they can be found in homes, vehicles, luggage, hotels, movie theaters, clothing AS WELL AS the nests of bats, birds and rodents.
  • Bed bugs use an adhesive substance to attach themselves to humans, pets, clothing or luggage.
  • Bed bugs are elusive and can sometimes go undetected.
  • Aside from bite symptoms, signs that you might have bed-bugs include fecal spots, blood smears on sheets, and molts.
  • Bed-Bugs were almost completely eradicated in the developed world in the 1940s, but sometime around 1995 they increased in prevalence. (You don’t really NEED to know this fact, I just thought it was really interesting).

What’s the difference between bed bugs and vampires? They’re both nocturnal, blood-sucking mattress dwellers. Except of course that BED-BUGS ARE REAL.

So how can you prevent bed bugs? Well, frankly, it’s not that easy. You certainly can’t live in a bubble your entire life. (Or maybe you could and then get your own reality show on TLC). The United States Environmental Protection Agency notes that although bed-bugs are “successful hitchhikers” a few simple precautions can help prevent a bed bug infestation in your home.

AT HOME:

  • Check secondhand furniture, beds, and couches for any signs of bed-bug infestation
  • Use a protective cover that encases mattresses and box springs and eliminates many hiding spots. The light color of the encasement makes bed bugs easier to see. Be sure to purchase a high quality encasement that will resist tearing and check the encasements regularly for holes.
  • Reduce clutter in your home to reduce hiding places for bed bugs.

WHEN TRAVELING:

  • In hotel rooms, use luggage racks to hold your luggage when packing or unpacking rather than setting your luggage on the bed or floor.
  • Check the mattress and headboard before sleeping.
  • Upon returning home, unpack directly into a washing machine and inspect your luggage carefully.

With the Halloween backdrop upon us, it’s easy to make light of bed-bugs and the fear that is often associated with them. But, the reality is that they’re REAL and can be dangerous to your health. Keep in mind that bed-bugs aren’t just a seasonal problem; an infestation can happen at any time of the year. In fact, studies show that bed-bugs can live for an entire year without feeding! So be cautious when you travel and keep your home tidy.

And one day, when your kids are complaining about monsters under the bed, don’t lie to them, advise them: Good night, sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.

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