Bed Bug Bites

Bed bugs not only bite people, they frequently appear in TV sound bites. For example, this recent sound bite from the David Letterman Show featuring NY City Mayor Bloomberg:

Letterman: What are we going to do about the rats? On Manhattan. Forget the other boroughs. And the bed bugs. What are we going to do?

Bloomberg: We’re going to try to export them.

Letterman: If you brought the rats to come in to kill the bed bugs, who wins?

Bloomberg: Actually, the bed bugs are probably tougher.

To people with bed bug infestations bed bugs are not a laughing matter. Mayor Bloomberg has convened a 10 member “Bedbug Advisory Board” that includes 3 entomologists. The Gothamist reports,

…key elements of the plan include creating a bed bug task force headed by an entomologist, a public education push, a city-funded “Bed Bug Academy” for building & property managers, assigning bed bug cases higher priority in Housing Court, and giving stronger rights of access to bed bug-infested apartments. The battle plan will also establish a clear protocol for residents dealing with a bed bug problem, including a “triage” plan detailing what to do in the first 24 hours (i.e. MOVE!).

Several city and state offices have had bed bug infestations. Inspection and treatment is expensive. In the case of the NY District Attorney office, beagle dogs trained to detect bed bugs by their odor were used as part of the inspection. It is expensive and time consuming to train dogs, but they can often locate infestations that humans cannot.

Education is one of the keys to controlling bed bugs. A recent study by Purdue Entomologists found that many people with bed bug infestations did not realize it. They also found that a bed bug infestation that started in one apartment spread to the entire building. Residents living next to an infested apartment had a greater than 50% chance that their own apartment was infested. Education and the ability to treat an entire structure (not just the isolated apartments) is important for control.

The need to eliminate bed bug infestations may require legal changes regarding tenant rights to refuse inspections and treatments and landlord responsibility for maintaining a bed bug free structure. A key is education. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in Bed Bugs, News, Policy. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Bed Bug Bites

  1. Kristine says:

    Bed bugs are something I fear. There would be nothing worse than getting in your nice warm bed at night to wake up to tons of bed bug bites. Just the thought of bugs in the place that I sleep is disturbing. Also, I did not know that bed bugs travel so easily through apartment buildings. The probability that I can get bed bugs from my neighbors is probably larger than the probability that I would start the infestation. It is good to know that I need to not only keep my own bed clean but be aware of other tenants in the building who might be starting a series of bed bug infestations. My bed is nice and comfy but the bed bugs are not welcome!

  2. Katy Hawkins says:

    Bed bugs are so small it’s hard to even realize if you have them. That can be scary for a campus like purdue because our campus could be infested so easily by bed bugs. I have never experienced them before in my life but i cannot imagine ever getting into my bed knowing that i have bugs in it. I hope that i will never have bugs in my bed because my bed is a source of comfort after a long day and having bugs in it would ruin that comfort.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    I have always been interested in bed bugs because i fear them so much. Whenever I go stay over night in a hotel, I can barely even sleep because of the thought of bed bugs being in my bed. I think it is very interesting that they can train dogs to scope out these bed bugs. It is definitely worth the time and energy of training them!

  5. Joe says:

    I always used to think when I was a kid that bed bugs were not real and my parents were just trying to scare me. When I found out that these were real, I became very paranoid everywhere I slept and have a great fear of them to this day. Whenever I go on trips I am sure to check all the beds and make sure that I do not see any. They are very small so you have to look very closely. The way they can train beagles to sniff the bed bugs out is amazing!

  6. Kyle Pluchar says:

    its’s funny how not many people know how to realize they have bedbug infestations, yet as kids, parents joked about “not letting the bed bugs bite.” It shows that even if there is a pesticide to control bedbugs, they can still live on and pass pesticide-resistant genes on to future generations and then Entomologists have to find another way to fight back.

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  9. Nice posting. These tips are really tremendous to sale our home. I think it would be effective for all.Thank you for sharing with us. keep it up.
    bed bug bite treatment

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