Some More About Bed Bugs

A friend alerted me to this article which claims that “…bedbugs are more likely to leave you alone the longer you stay at the bar.”  Many might like to imagine Graduate students conducting research while plastered and subjecting equally smashed unsuspecting undergrads to bed bugs.  This, sadly, isn’t the case.  Though I do not have any undergraduate workers, the ones I have observed working in our bed bug lab are not treated thus and I imagine those at Nebraska (the site of this research) are treated similarly.  Poorly paid. Overworked.  But very much appreciated!  It’s all for Science!g

I have a number of problems with the MSN article, not the least of which is that they spelled “bed bug” incorrectly.  It’s TWO words people!  No, my major issue with their “reporting” is their complete misrepresentation of what the research actually stated.  The researchers tested blood of varying BAC (Blood Alcohol Content).  They mixed alcohol with the blood to obtain, 0.010, 0.025, 0.050 and 0.100 levels of BAC.  For reference, in my home state of Washington 0.08 is the legal limit to drive.  I don’t know about you, but that use to be more than a couple drinks for me…not that I would have ever been an irresponsible youth and drive after drinking.  Nope.  Never did it…but I digress…

What the researchers found was NOT that the bed bugs (TWO WORDS!!!) left you alone the more you had to drink but that they simply did not feed on the blood as readily as they would on non-alcohol treated (i.e. the control) blood.  With each increase in BAC, the treatment bed bugs ate less than the control bed bugs.

For better reporting on this research, check out the HuffPo article.

For some Bed Bug Grammar Semantics visit the amazing BugGirl’s post.

Bed Bugs Laugh at Your Bombs!

Well, I’m not sure if they laugh, but they certainly don’t care if you set them off in your home.  Bug bombs, when used incorrectly, can have devastating consequences. “But wait…don’t they do good things for us when used correctly like kill bugs and stuff” you ask?  Not always.  And just because the label claims to treat a pest, do not believe it.   A recent article published in theJournal of Economic Entomology details how ineffective these products truly are when it comes to treating some pests; in this case Bed Bugs.

Wikipedia.org
Bed Bug
Cimex lectularius

Bed bugs have been a long standing concern of public health officials as well as anyone who doesn’t want insects sucking on them while they sleep…so I assume that’s most of you.  They have been sharing our beds and lives for thousands and thousands of years.  The exoskeleton of a bed bug was found in an Ancient Egyptian tomb for crying out loud!  With the widespread use of DDT in the mid 20th century they mostly disappeared from the North American continent for a good long while.  DDT worked, it did some good things in treating pests.  But it also had some harmful consequences.  With our growing consciousness about the affect we were/are having to the Earth, there was an outcry and push to ban these ecological harmful products.

Wikipedia.org
DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) Molecule

However, for those of you who might think, “Let’s just start using DDT again!  It worked so great the last time!”  Think again.  Most, if not all bed bug populations are resistant to the mode of action employed by DDT and they are highly regionally resistant to other products like permethrins and pyrethroids.  Some do work, but the bottom line is, you need a professional to know what to use.

Though effective at the time, these DDT products show significantly less efficacy than when first used. With repeated exposure, the individuals with innate resistances have become the dominant genotypes. Thus, the many current bed bug populations have evolved resistance to DDT and similar products.

So this brings us back to the article in the JoEE.  A series of over-the-counter Bed Bug Bug Bombs were tested for efficacy in their claims to treat bed bugs.  Bugs were exposed to the bug bombs per manufacturer instructions with no hiding spots and with hiding sites.  The low down is this, when sprayed directly with the stuff (no hiding places), the bugs mostly died.  But, when given a place to hide there was little to NO mortality of the bed bugs.  In other words, if you use one of these foggers in a place that might have places for hiding, like say…your home…then the ruddy things WILL NOT WORK!   End of Story!

Want to know if your bed bug fogger/bug bomb will work? Read the label. Does it say it treats bed bugs? Then it won’t work. Take it back to the store and get a refund.

When I first posted on my Facebook page about this news, one of my FB Friends posted the following statement [sic]:   “Cats and a metal bedframe appear to help with long term maintanence after the infestation is gone though.”

There is a long standing myth that bed bugs will only hang out in a bed.  This is NOT true!  Additionally, people think that bed bugs are only introduced into your home by infested items.  While this is technically true, it is not always the whole story.

The only way to prevent a an infestation and/or reinfestation is to keep them out of your home.  That’s it.  This includes by using appropriate precautions while traveling, not purchasing used furniture. When you purchase used clothing and bedding, immediately bag it and seal it up, then take it to a laundromat and dry on high for 30 minutes. This will kill any adults, nymphs and eggs that might be present. If you live in an apartment or other building with attached walls, bed bugs do travel! This is why if you are a renter, it is your landlords responsibility to treat a first infestation (*disclaimer* this depends upon your state and their laws, but that’s what it is for Ohio as far as I know…first “offense” + shared wall = landlord pays). Single family home, all on you unless you can demonstrate there was no treatment for a prior infestation before you moved in.

Bed Bugs…not just in your bed.

Metal bed frame? May do a good job of keeping them out of cracks and crevices that are found in wood ones, but it is not going to keep them out if you buy a used one that comes with hitchhikers (or used bed, bed sheets, etc).  One of the authors of this study states: “They will even infest metal bed frames. In fact one of the worst infestations I have seen was a guy sleeping directly on a metal fold out cot with no mattress. He just had a couple of blankets on it. The springs were packed full of bed bugs.”*
Bed bugs will hang out in pet bedding if they find it comfy. Just because they are called “Bed Bugs” does not mean they are restricted to your bed and its associated materials. Bedside tables. Lamps. Base boards. Power outlets and other wall jacks. Smoke detectors and even between the trim along the base of your walls. Hell, in and under your carpet! If your infestation is big enough and introduced in the right place, they’ll find a way to make it their home.

Life Cycle of the common North American bed bug.
EPA.gov

Use caution.  Don’t pick up couches off the side of the road. Those are probably there for a reason.
*Bryant, JL. 2012. Personal Communication
“Bug-Bomb Foggers Are No Match for Bed Bugs”  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120604094021.htm