Pesticide-resistant bed bugs are invading homes across Texas
After being all but eradicated after World War II, the past 20 years has seen a bed bugs comeback in the United States. According to Brooke Borel, who wrote the book Infested: How the Bed Bug Infiltrated Our Bedroom and Took Over the World, the combination of a new species of bed bug and an increase in domestic and international travel has meant that bed bugs now have a ticket for the ride — right into your home!
There are a lot of misconceptions about bed bugs. We are setting the record straight and debunking the biggest bed bug myths out there.
Myth: You can’t see bed bugs.
Bed bugs are very small, with a tendency to hide in crevices, so they can be difficult to detect. But if you look closely, especially with a flashlight, you can often spot them. Another telltale sign of an infestation is dark spotting from excrement and rust or red streaks from crushed bed bugs.
Myth: Bed bugs only bite when it’s dark.
Sorry, but sleeping with the lights on won’t prevent them from biting you or your loved ones. While bed bugs are mostly active during the night, they will bite whenever they’re hungry.
Myth: The best way to know you have bed bugs is if you get bites while sleeping.
Some people react to bed bug bites with an itchy welt within a day or two of the initial bite, much like a mosquito bite. But some people notice the bite much later or not at all. When there is an allergic reaction, it’s not always immediately obvious what caused it. Furthermore, it’s difficult to identify the bite as being resulting from a bed bug. These bites can resemble flea bites, mosquito bites, or skin disorders like eczema. So, you can’t use bites alone to confirm these pest’s presence.
Myth: You only need to worry about bed bugs in your bed.
Bed bugs can be found throughout your home, including on furniture, in carpets and between floorboards, behind picture frames and cabinetry, and even on your ceiling. They are associated with beds largely because they’re nocturnal — That’s the real reason they are most active when you’re sleeping.
Myth: Bed bugs are a sign of a dirty home
Bed bugs aren’t picky, and cleanliness isn’t a deterrent. They are attracted by warmth, carbon dioxide and their next meal rather than the condition of their victims’ homes.
Myth: You can only get bed bugs if you sleep in cheap hotels or hostels
Bed bugs are common in places with high turnover and less diligent cleaning procedures, such as hostels and college dorms, but they can also be picked up from expensive hotels, movie theaters, airport’s and restaurants. If you live in an apartment, as many do in Austin, you can also get them from your neighbors.
Myth: You can get diseases from bed bugs
There is no evidence that bed bugs transmit any blood-borne diseases, such as Zika or West Nile, which are transmitted by mosquitoes. The only significant health issue comes from the itchiness and sometimes significant inflammation from the bites themselves.
Myth: It’s not difficult to get rid of bed bugs
No drugstore-label bug spray will kill bed bugs. Those sprays are a waste of money and time. The only way to kill bed bugs safely is with heat. We’ve heard of tenants burning down whole apartment complexes in an attempt to heat up a unit enough to kill the bugs.
Fact: A professional heat remediation treatment is your best bet to eliminate bed bugs in your home.
Myth: Pesticides can get rid of bed bugs.
Pesticides with pyrethrin do work on bed bugs, but they can be difficult to apply successfully. Room foggers don’t necessarily reach the crevices where bed bugs like to hide, so while you might kill some of the bed bugs, you may not get all of them or their eggs. With considerable effort, you can eradicate bed bugs this way, but you will need to be vigilant and be sure to treat the entire home.
Warning: Pyrethrin is known to be poisonous to pets. We definitely recommend against using this pesticide on your own.
If you get bed bugs, you have to throw away your mattress and bedding.
Mattresses are expensive to replace, and unless you have completely eradicated bed bugs from your home (since they can live places other than bedding), you won’t have resolved the problem. It’s better to spend your money on bed bug heat treatment. Once the bugs are dead, clean the mattress, and it will be good as new.