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Uninvited Guests

2010 August 12

By Lina Younes

Many a night I’ve put my children to bed while saying the rhyme “Night-night, sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.” But it wasn’t until recently that I actually saw these little pests when I accompanied a Spanish language TV crew to a residence in Baltimore MD which had a bed bug infestation. The crew was going to interview the owner of the house who had been waging a war against these bugs for over a year. My role was to give tips in Spanish on how to resolve the problem in a manner that would not be harmful to the environment nor human health.

In preparing for the interview, I learned of this growing problem and the difficulties in addressing it properly. These pests cause itchy bites to people and pets alike. While extremely annoying, they are not known for transmitting or spreading disease. EPA recommends using a comprehensive approach to address bed bug infestations Integrated pest management combined with the use of pesticides is a must! However, beware of misleading marketing ploys making false claims which will not solve the problem. If you are to use pesticides, read the label first to make sure the product is identified for use on bed bugs. If these pests are not listed on the label, the product might not effectively treat the infestation. Make sure you apply the appropriate pesticide correctly and that you remove children AND pets from the areas where the pesticides are being applied.

Another thing that I learned is that these pests like to travel! They latch on to suitcases, hence the growing problem plaguing dorms and even the fanciest hotels. You can check the mattress for signs of bed bugs. See some additional tips.

I know when I read about these pests, I start itching all over. I hope that I have at least piqued your curiosity to learn more about the problem. There are cyber tools available on the Internet which will provide information on bed bug reports before booking a hotel room or renting an apartment—a useful tool to avoid bringing these uninvited guests home.

As always, we would like to hear about your experiences dealing with these unwanted critters.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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6 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    August 12, 2010

    Natural selection…! There are wildlife in the universe among much species, that strongest can eat “the weak” species. Human, until now, is the champions than, for example, dinosaur that its strongest animal. All are in this universe scared to the human, because they are, beside has brainpower, is also have solidarity. Next, after the human is the winner, they will be intrigue among them, and the best brainpower will be set our universe. Who ? Us !….

  2. Jim Teresinski permalink
    August 13, 2010

    I’m just wondering how bad the bedbug problem is. Besides not causing/carrying disease, it seems as if there would be over-the-counter bedbug remedies sold and media advertising for these products as well. The only reference to bedbugs I, as well as several people i spoke to about this can bring to our memories is the rhyme quoted above. Flea infestation seems a bigger problem. Maybe I’m biased because I volunteer for a nonprofit animal rescue organization and have to deal with flea infestations often

  3. Lina-EPA permalink*
    August 13, 2010

    Jim,
    In reference to the growing bed bug infestation, I would refer you to the following links:
    http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/bedbugs/

    http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/ppdc/bedbug-summit/wkgroups-recommend.pdf

    I am not minimizing the flea infestation problem in any way. The issue with bed bugs is that many people use inappropriate measures to fight the problem which are proving ineffective and actually harmful to humans and pets.

  4. David Patterson permalink
    August 13, 2010

    i know all too well about those bed bugs, I grew up in Selma Ala. our house was infected with them. There was no escape, my Grandfather had to erect another house on the other side of his land , burn down the old house after he had built a new one. Thats the only sure fire method of getting rid of them, Clothes , furniture, everything had to be burned, That may sound drastic but what or you too do, This was the 50’s and 60’s, hadn’t heard of them since, now they or back with a vengeance . What I would like to know or they originally from North America or were they brought over here like the Black Rat? One more thing , cold will kill the, you can put your clothes in a commercial dryer , the heat will kill them , the home dryers may not get hot enough. But who has a freezer big enough to put your clothes in.

  5. Kevin Megan permalink
    September 21, 2010

    what is the required temperature that they will be frozen to death?

  6. discount hammock permalink
    November 15, 2010

    This really a nice post.

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