Unlike the struggling Mets and Knicks, bed bugs have again made headlines in New York City. In 2004, bed bug violations in New York City totaled 377 in 2004, up sharply from only two in 2002 and 16 in 2003. Reports of bed bug infestations continuously come from different parts of the US but those coming from New York are seemingly the most disturbing.
Hordes of bed bugs were found in a duplex apartment in Park Avenue, while residents of a Riverside Drive co-op spent $20,000 to get rid of these pesky insects. The comeback of bed bugs has been attributed by entomologists and pest control groups to the continued entry of immigrant settlers coming from third world countries, increased travel activity and use of less effective insecticides.
A new mattress bought from a department store may have been stored in a truck carrying a bug infested couch disposed by its owner. Bed bugs are not choosy on what type of place to dwell, as long as there is a warm body available nearby. Even a well-cleaned and maintained home will be good for them, unlike roaches or mice, which prefer to move in a filthy environment.
Once they enter a home, bed bugs can attach themselves to pants and crawl into neighboring apartments. Anybody that stays in a hotel has a chance of bringing home bed bugs and even some of New York’s best places to stay in have infestations.
Bed bugs have been found in private schools, hospital maternity wards and even in the waiting room of a local hospital in downtown New York. Bed bugs were almost an afterthought shortly after World War II by using DDT. However, concerns over the possible effects of the chemical to human health eventually resulted in the banning of its use.
Who’s the enemy
Bed bugs have the scientific name “Cimex lectularius”. They don’t have wings unlike most insects and have a brownish color. Bed bugs move the similarly to nocturnal parasites whereas they are active in hunting for human hosts. They are normally inactive during the day and only come out during nighttime. Given this behavior people will only be able to discover them when their population has risen to hundreds or even thousands.
Human blood is the favorite meal of bed bugs but they can also feed on cats and dogs if they are left with no option. Bed bugs have highly developed mouthparts to bite and suck blood. The insects usually come out to attack when the person occupying the bed has dozed off to dreamland.
Bed bugs eat for as short as less than a minute to as long as 10 minutes. They can expand three times their original size once they are filled with blood. However, humans will have a hard time detecting that he is being victimized by a bed bug, as its bite is painless.
However, bed bugs do not transmit disease and the bite only results in an orderly trail of red wheals that dermatologists mistakenly identify as scabies or hives. The lifespan of an adult ed bug can last for as long as a year and a female can lay as much as 500 eggs.
Bed bugs prefer beds with many holes and tears and can even occupy egg foams, sleeping bags, cardboard stacks and even waterbeds. Waterbeds feature nooks and crannies and normally kept warm.
A Brooklyn street fight
Insecticides bought from the local hardware have become ineffective in fighting bed bugs, as they have become more resilient over the years. Using a cockroach bomb will only scatter them in different areas of a room.
Pest control groups in New York have advised those with beg bug problems to wash and bag every piece of clothing in an infested room, as part of a pre-extermination procedure.
Garments or beddings badly infested should be thrown out, as these cannot be sprayed with insecticides based. Cleaning clutter is also a requirement, as spaces filled with belongings will just delay the inspection and treatment process.
In addition, bed frames and bureau drawers need to be taken apart, as various chemicals will be used in the treatment. Processes need to be done multiple times if the infestations are of the worst kind.
Despite various ways to fight bed bugs, people need to accept the fact that they are back and will continue to stay in the Big Apple.