Imagine... being asleep in a soft, warm bed. In the middle of the night, you're awoken by an itching sensation...like something is crawling on you. You get up turn on the lights and there they are, Bed Bugs, your dream just became reality!
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You can view Hotels around the country who have been reported to be infested with bed bugs in the Bed Bug Registry
This doesn't just happen in underdeveloped nations. This is a reality for an increasing number of Americans. If you have ever experienced bed bugs, you may be embarrassed and frustrated, but it's not your fault. Bed bugs can appear in anyone's home - even the White House.
Once thought to be eradicated from North America, the legendary little pests known as bed bugs have been making an unwelcome comeback in hotels and homes. Lest you think bed bugs are relegated to fleabag motels, they have been spotted in the posher locales as well.
What are bed bugs?
Bed bug is the common name for Cimex lectularius, a reddish-brown, oval-shaped insect that can grow to a quarter of an inch long. Bed bugs are wingless and survive by sucking blood from a host animal, preferably a human. See What to do and what not ot do about bed bugs. Bed bug article from the University of Toronto.
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Why are they called bed bugs?
Bed bugs commonly hide in mattresses, carpets, behind peeling paint or wallpaper, and in crevices in wooden furniture (like a bed's headboard or the picture frame above it). The bugs are nocturnal and typically bite people while they sleep, usually just before dawn
Why are bed bugs reappearing?
Bed bugs were all but eradicated with broad-spectrum pesticides such as DDT, which killed a wide variety of bug types. Concerns about health and the environment led to many of these broad-spectrum pesticides being removed from the market. Today, pest control methods are more focused, designed to kill a particular species (like cockroaches). Bed bugs, since they are not specifically being treated for, are slipping through the cracks.
Where did bed bugs come from?
Bed bugs travel surprisingly well, and are quite comfortable stowing away in luggage and even clothing. The bugs are increasingly found in urban hotels in America. Since they tend to stow away and travel with humans, any place that sees a number of world travelers is susceptible. Pilots, wealthy people, and business travelers can bring bed bugs along unwittingly.
Statistics are hard to come by, in part because bedbugs - which score high on the "ick" scale even though there's no evidence they transmit disease and they aren't related to a lack of cleanliness - are "a problem nobody wants to talk about," Potter says. Joe McInerney of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, a co-sponsor of the bedbug symposium, says "most hotel chains don't keep track because the number is so insignificant," and he adds that with 4.4 million hotel rooms in the USA and a 2006 projected occupancy rate of 64.4%, "you could count the number of cases per day on one or two hands."
But in a survey in December 2004 by Pest Control Technology magazine, respondents said hotels and motels were the most common location for bedbug invasions, accounting for 37% of calls. In a recent survey of 700 client hotels, the pest-control company Steritech found that 24.4% required treatment for bedbugs from November 2002 to April 2006, though only .6% of 76,000 rooms were infested. Overall, the National Pest Management Association says bedbug reports increased 71% from 2000 to 2005, with member companies that had received one or two calls a year now logging 10 to 50 a week.