If you haven’t been affected by bed bugs yet, you will be. It is only a matter of time. At the inaugural EPA National Bed Bug Summit in April 2009, experts at that time referred to the situation as ‘pandemic’.

These parasitic creatures were almost eradicated by DDT. Then we found out DDT was catastrophic – wreaking havoc on the environment, pushing creatures to extinction, bio-accumulating in our bodies to cause disease. DDT was banned in 1972. They began their resurgence while the pest control companies started using stronger and more lethal toxins in their pesticides. Well, these pesticides lose their bang each time they are used because pests become resistant. So there is the answer. Pesticide Resistance – the leading cause of the skyrocketing bed bug population!

Each time pests are exposed to pesticides, a certain percentage lives and they pass that immunity on to their offspring. Successive generations are then uncontrolled by that pesticide and soon the entire population is resistant – that is pesticide resistance. The real danger is that the stronger, more toxic pesticides being used bio-accumulate in the environment and the human body. Why do you think we have such increases in Autism, ADHD, etc.? Well, that’s another story.

So there is no solution in the synthetic chemical arsenal. These monsters can live a year between feedings, reactions don’t show up sometimes until two weeks later, and they are expert hiders that latch onto basically anything. People bring them home and don’t even know it. Hence, we have an issue.

Next question – how can people protect themselves? That is the simplest question to answer – prevent! It boils down to Education 101 about Bed Bugs – what they look like, how do they find you, how can you avoid them, etc. These wily creatures are so adept at hiding that they are inadvertently carried everywhere on luggage, in clothing, on furniture and artwork – carried by anything that surrounds humans. An adult is about half the size of an apple seed and varies from almost translucent to the color of a dried scab.

First line of defense would be a repellent. There are many products that repel but the most successful to my knowledge are those that contain cedar – like cedar chests and closets where you never see a pest. Regardless of the repellent chosen, it must be a green product or else it is just a matter of time before bed bugs are immune to that pesticide and you are back at square one.

Protecting yourself does require some diligence but the effort is dwarfed by the hassle, emotional toil and financial mess that an infestation brings. Be particularly careful when entering into a vulnerable situation such as a theater, riding a bus, taking the subway or going to work. If you travel, apply a repellent before you go and when you get to the hotel room, thoroughly inspect each layer of linens down to the mattress. Check behind the headboard. If you see any evidence – either adult bugs, eggs (they can look like a pile of dead skin), small streaks of dried blood, or small dark dots, alert management and get another room!

When you purchase things for your home – inspect! Bed bugs come on new clothing, in boxes of imported tile, and in the folds or grocery bags. They loathe light and will burrow into the tiniest of spaces. Keep a bright flashlight near where you enter your home so you can thoroughly examine your belongings. If you find one lone bug, kill it but don’t panic – you have done your job and protected your home – for now.

That is how you protect yourself and loved ones – by being diligent. Bed bugs are documented in more places everyday and it is a numbers game – you will be in the same place as they are soon if you haven’t been already. Protect yourself and prevent bed bugs so you do not get them in the first place!

Bed Bug Prevention by Louise Hodges