December 5th, 2014
Part illuminating, part entertaining and part terrifying, Google Suggest is a window into the collective search psyche of our fellow humans. This month:
“Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.” Bed bugs were the stuff of dark legend, a mysterious force mothers would teasingly warn their kids about before tucking them safely into bed. But these blood-sucking creatures, once thought to have been mostly eradicated in North America, have crept and crawled their way back into our beds. It brought many worried house owners to ask Google: is it impossible to get rid of bed bugs?
The answer is no. Exterminating the little suckers, however, is not an easy task. First of all, they’re not alone. A single female can lay 500 eggs during her lifetime, and within a few months her offspring can reproduce as well. Remember how exponential growth works? That’s what will happen. Depending on conditions, bed bugs can produce three or four generations in one year.
Furthermore, you can’t starve them to death. Bed bugs can go a remarkably long time without feeding, should no host be present to provide them with needed blood meals. Scientists have documented adult bed bugs living up to 550 days without eating. So leaving a room empty for a few weeks in order to get rid of bed bugs, won’t do the trick.
So what does? Most importantly: be thorough. Every possible hiding place must be cleaned or treated. In a home, that means all clothing, bedding, linens, and other washable fabrics must be laundered, usually repeatedly. Cracks in walls must be sealed, loose wallpaper reattached or removed, and carpets treated and vacuumed. Also, a recent study published in the journal Biology Letters, shows that people with more body hair are less likely to be bitten. So to those of you who are afraid of bed bugs, we would like to say: Man up and get hairy.