Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite

By Rebecca Burton • Published: July 6th, 2015
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Have you ever woken up with itchy, red, clustered bites on your body? You may have a bed bug problem. According to the National Pest Management Association, the proliferation of bed bugs is a national issue that is only getting worse.

Experts say this is because the pests are developing a resistance to repellents. They latch on to clothing, furniture and luggage to make their way to their new home … your bed. They are world travelers, often hitching rides home with guests in hotels.

A researcher at New Mexico State University who is studying new ways to control bed bugs says that applying heat using a steamer, instead of harsh chemicals, is one way to get rid of an infestation. Using a steamer at a temperature of 214 to 220 degrees instantly kills the critters. The researcher is also testing different repellents to see which ones are most effective.

However, experts caution that even the smallest infestations are hard to control, and you should seek professional help if the problem persists. This is because the bugs can sometimes detect chemical repellents and avoid them. They also routinely travel as far away as 20 feet from their hiding places just to get their meal — your blood. In addition, successful removal of these critters relies on specialized knowledge of the bugs’ biology and hiding locations, something pest control professionals know well.

Luckily, there are many preventive measures you can take to avoid an infestation. First, avoid bringing used furniture, or luggage from a recent trip, into your home until it has been inspected for bugs. It’s also a good idea to cover mattresses with a plastic cover to prevent the pests from penetrating the surface. Finally, be sure to check your bedding and furniture periodically for bed bugs to catch a problem before it gets too big.