As the WIMP Family Friendly site suggests, “Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite” is a good wish to give. Bed bugs live on human blood, making them, for all intents and purposes, the perfect vampire insect. While you won’t feel a bed bug bite (much) they leave nasty, itchy welts that can be so maddening that some people with bed bug infestations have resorted to desperate measures to get rid of them, sometimes with disastrous results.
What are bed bugs?
The University of Kentucky Department of Entomology notes that bed bugs average about 3/16 inch in length and are reddish brown in color. They do not fly or jump, but rather crawl rapidly across any surface. Female bed bugs lay up to three eggs a day and hundreds in a lifetime, usually in secluded places in a home or other building. They usually reside in clothing and furniture, especially beds, which is where the source of their meals sleep. Bed bugs are dormant during the day when humans are awake. They come out at night to feed, biting humans though sometimes they will attack other mammals such as family pets, drinking the blood.
Health concerns and bed bugs
When bed bugs bite, they secrete an anticoagulant chemical that allows for the free flow of blood from its victim. The body’s immune system reacts to this chemical, which causes the wet welts and the maddening itching sensation. The effects can be worse if you have an allergy to the bed bug secretion.
A bed bug infestation may create psychological effects as well. According to a recent story in the Atlantic, “Bed Bug PTSD” may be a real phenomenon. According to some preliminary studies, people who have or have had bed bug infestations report heightened feelings of paranoia, anxiety, and depression. Sleep becomes difficult at best, with, for a few people, even the least sensation being interpreted as a bed bug, whether they are present or not. People will cover everything with clear garbage bags in an attempt to stave off the infestation. Indeed, the psychological effects of a bed bug infestation can be more severe than the actual physical manifestation.
The man in Detroit who started a fire to get rid of bed bugs
The Detroit Free Press reported recently on a man who started a fire in an attempt to deal with a bed bug infestation that had overtaken his apartment. First, he doused himself and the couch he was sitting on with alcohol. Then he lit a cigarette in an attempt to burn one of the bed bugs. He succeeded in setting the couch and himself on fire. The attempt to set a bed bug on fire resulted in the man being sent to the hospital with severe burns and four units in the apartment complex being destroyed before firefighters extinguished the blaze.
The incident was just the second to occur in the Detroit area in recent months. Previously, a woman poured alcohol over herself and the floor of her apartment. The resulting fire destroyed the 48 unit apartment complex.
Getting rid of bed bugs
The incidents in Detroit illustrate the difficulties of getting rid of bed bugs. Some professional exterminators, not to speak of do it yourselfers, have had difficulty getting rid of the pests. Miller the Killer uses a green bed bug treatment that is so superior to the heat and chemical method that the company can offer a one year warranty. The treatment, using a protein from soybeans, kills bed bugs by slicing through their protective layers like razor blades, killing the insect instantly. The great advantage to this method is that you won’t have to throw away furnishing and clothing after it is done.
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