It used to be just a cute bedtime sentiment, now it’s not so funny.
Bed bugs were all but eradicated in the US with the advent of DDT, but that powerful pesticide was banned in the 1960s. Now, the infestation of the tiny bloodsucking parasites is getting worse. “It definitely is something growing and I know everybody that’s working with this doesn’t expect it really to get better soon.”
UW-Madison entomologist Phil Pellitteri says the bed bugs get a free ride from people who travel, go to movies, hang with friends, and generally move around a lot. The name suggests the insects are found exclusively in the bed. “Well, you normally expect 70- to 80-percent of the bed bugs to be in the mattress, the box-spring, or the headboard and frame of the bed. But then we find they disperse and when the populations get high you can find them almost anywhere.” Including, Pellitteri says, TVs, computers, night stands, clocks, lights, and most other nooks and crannies.
Pellitteri says indoor chemicals don’t really work. If done correctly, high heat (112+ degrees) can kill the bugs. It’s important to address the problem sooner rather than later. Pellitteri says the bed bugs don’t just fly into your house; someone brings them in. The bug doctor suggests you think long and hard before bringing secondhand clothes or furniture into your house without first cleaning the items. Pellitteri says awareness and prevention is the best hope we have to fight the bothersome bugs.