New York City and other metropolitan areas have been hit by what some people are calling an epidemic – an epidemic of of bed bugs. While long considered eradicated through the use of DDT in the 1950s (the toxic effects of which proved devastating to birdlife, as detailed by Rachel Carson in Silent Spring), bedbugs have seen a major resurgence in population in the last decade.
The bed bug – Cimex lectularius – is a tiny nocturnal insect about the size of an apple seed. They sleep in the crevices of one’s bedding during the day and emerge at night to feast on the blood of humans, piercing the skin with two hollow feeding tubes. One of these tubes injects its anticoagulating and anesthetic saliva, and the other extracts blood from the host for about five minutes.
No one wants to be infested with bed bugs – their bites leave large, itchy red welts over the body. They’re notoriously difficult to get rid off, too – their eggs are microscopic and can fill very tiny corners of beds, blankets, carpets, nightstands, and chairs. Anyplace where there is a crack or crevice is a potential living space for bedbugs, and they can survive for up to two months without feeding again. Bedbugs have even been known to live behind peeling paint chips. In other words, they are notoriously tenacious critters.
Bedbugs have captured the popular imagination, and for good reason. There have been confirmed infestations of bedbugs in both the Brooklyn and NYC District Attorney offices; movie theatres and hotels in midtown pose challenges to local tourism; triage rooms in hospitals have had to shutter their doors. There have been major infestations reported in every neighborhood and in every borough and populations seem to be spreading rapidly – in other words, there isn’t any place one can go to escape the threat of bedbugs. Even the swankiest penthouse apartment is at risk of an infestation.
Controlling these insects is difficult, but it behooves any person who doesn’t want to be fed upon by the noctural insect to attack them as soon as an infestation is suspected. Early infestations can be controlled through the use of targeted killings. Larger and later infestations have to be handled by professional exterminators, some of whom use bedbug-sniffing dogs to discover where nests are located. These inspections and exterminations can run in the thousands of dollars, and typically all bedding – including mattresses, blankets, and pillows – have to be thrown away. Every article of clothing has to be washed in hot water – a laundry bill that could easily run into the hundreds of dollars.
So it is truly incumbent upon the person who suspects an infestation to attack the infestation early.
However, anyone concerned with the environmental and health consequences of cleaners or pest control products would surely want to avoid using anything particularly toxic or poisonous. It’s not especially surprising that most bedbug killers are highly, highly toxic. To spray toxin upon the mattress, nightstand, or anyplace near where one sleeps seems dangerous – especially when there are pets or children living in the household.
Rest Easy is an entirely natural product, which both repels and kills bed bugs. Active ingredients include cinnamon, lemongrass, cloves, and mint and is also effective for killing fleas and dust mites, the latter of which is a common allergen. Folks suffering from bed bugs or allergies could potentially benefit from this product. Additionally exciting for anyone planning to travel – since bed bugs have been reported in numerous hotels throughout New York City alone – is the fact that this green product comes in a 2 oz. travel size – ensuring that no one picks up an infestation of bed bugs while away from home.
EcoBugFree is another option. It is an environmentally-sensitive, minimal risk pesticide that qualifies for EPA Exempt status. It has been designed to keep pets, children, and employees safe from toxins, poisons, and pesticide residues that are potentially harmful to one’s health. In particular, this product eliminates the eggs of the bed bug – ensuring that the next generation nestled between the sheets never matures. A bane for the bed bug, and a boon for the bedroom!