Bedbugs, once eradicated by powerful but now banned pesticides like DDT, have become such a nuisance that they’ve spawned national summit meetings and federal legislation, including government-sponsored Bedbug Summits. These meetings all aim to investigate the severity of the problem and to find effective methods to kill the nasty little bloodsuckers. Congress has even pitched legislation to help states pay for programs to control bedbugs in lodging places.
If you’ve noticed clusters or lines of itchy welts on your skin that resemble mosquito bites —and you don’t have any mosquitoes around—you may be another bedbug bite victim. The bugs have appeared in places ranging from luxury hotels to suburban McMansions, making no distinctions between clean lodgings and crowded homeless shelters. But by far, “apartments are the worst,” says Michael Potter, Ph.D., a professor of entomology at the University of Kentucky who specializes in urban pest issues. “Bedbugs can move from unit to unit,” he says, and thanks to clutter and a lifetime’s worth of belongings crammed into a small amount of space, it can be hard to uncover all their hiding spaces.
Complicating the issue is that pesticides in use today seem to have little effect, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. On the positive side, however, the study confirmed that bedbug bites don’t transmit diseases from one unsuspecting victim to another.
These insects are icky, though. Should bedbugs ever invade your home or apartment, use these five ways to deal with them: