Nighttime Itching? Bed Bug Infestations Up 500% Worldwide

Call it the Twilight phenomenon. The EPA held its first ever “bed bug summit” last week, to discuss the rise in infestations of the tiny nocturnal bloodsuckers. There was talk of more ‘bed bug task forces’ in big cities, possible federal research into new technology such as steaming or freezing the bugs, and lots of icky close-ups of parasites.

With the increase in cheap global travel, bed bugs have really been seeing (and populating) the world. They don’t just live in skanky hotel mattresses, though. Since they have the “travel bug” they like to hitch rides in trains, planes, cars, buses, and your suitcase. They visit movie theaters, and you’ll even find them in your electrical outlets, alarm clocks, and bookcases! De-lightful.

Controlling the bugs has been a real problem since DDT was banned in 1972. So if you do find any of these apple-seed-sized beasts in your home, a simple vacuuming won’t get rid of them. Check out this flow chart from the Harvard School of Public Health. It’ll show you what to do if you suspect that your home has been infested.

On the (pillow) case: EPA tackles bed bugs [Scientific American]
Management of suspected bed bug infestations [Harvard School of Public Health]
Keeping the bed bugs at bay [Consumer Reports Health]

(Photo: dennis and aimee jonez)