Saturday, August 28, 2010
[Even if I had a picture of bedbug I'm not sure if I'd put it up. I'm putting up a completely unrelated picture of a cool courtyard in Philadelphia, created by participants in the Village of Arts and Humanities programs, that I took a picture of when I was up there earlier in the month. I don't know if you can tell from the picture, but those are rocks inlaid in concrete. It was amazing!]
Okay so like a month ago when I was writing about the other projects I was following I wrote up this little section in my post about bedbugs (in response to the $365/yr person who had recently experienced a bedbug crisis) but I took it out because it seemed extraneous. (And while extraneous information doesn’t usually bother me — anyone who’s ever heard me tell a story can certainly attest to that — I’m generally better when blogging than I am in real life and occasionally manage to edit myself.)
So I edited that out, but since then bedbugs have been in the news on a seemingly daily basis so as a public service, I’m restoring it here as its own post.
For anyone who cares, here is some information about bedbugs…
I have a fabulous book called Common-Sense Pest Control: Least-Toxic Solutions for Your Home, Garden, Pets, and Community and I remember having looked at the bedbug section previously when there was a big hoo-hah in the media about bedbugs, and there are a couple of things to note. The first is that
In the laboratory, the bedbug has been shown to have the capacity to harbor and transmit many human pathogens. But in actual field settings, transmission of pathogens has not been confirmed; consequently, the bedbug is not now regarded as a vector of human disease.
So they’re gross, but they’re probably not going to kill you. Mosquitos, those more familiar bloodsucking friends of ours, might actually be more dangerous. And everyone has just adjusted to getting bitten by them on a regular basis, generally no one freaks out about it.
The second is that bedbugs can’t fly or jump, they can only walk, so moving a bed away from the wall and coating the legs with vaseline, or putting the legs in “containers such as cat-food tins” filled with soapy water will prevent bedbugs that are not yet in the bed from getting there. (If they’re already there, obviously this strategy will simply serve to keep them from leaving. Probably not what you want. So be sure to first vacuum or clean the bed of any bugs by hand before setting up the barriers.)
Alternatively, the legs of the bed can be set into clean glass jars or polished metal cans. The bedbugs’ feet, or tarsi, have claws that are useful in climbing vertical surfaces like paper, plaster or wood, but cannot cling to clean glass or polished metal.
The authors also note that
Infested mattresses and beds should be replaced, steam-cleaned or taken outdoors for treatment with insecticides. Launder or dry-clean sheets and blankets. When transporting infested materials, enclose them in plastic bags to prevent inadvertent introduction of bugs into other areas.
And this I think is the most useful piece of information:
Because bedbugs are very sensitive to heat at all stages of their development, artificially raising the temperature for several days within the room may be helpful as part of an overall strategy to eliminate the pest. The thermal death point for the common bedbug is 111°F to 113°F; temperatures of 97°F to 99°F kill large numbers of the bug. Raising room temperature to these levels by using a high thermostat setting and supplemental heaters for an hour or so would probably eliminate an infestation.
Bedbugs are also killed by prolonged exposure to low temperatures (32°F to 48°F). Eggs die at these temperatures within 30 to 60 days, although adults and nymphs die within hours. Thus closing off an infested bedroom and leaving it unheated in cold weather might also eradicate a bedbug infestation.
So there you have it.
And for anyone who is interested in taking control of their local pest management instead of relying on commercial products or exterminators, this book is a must-have. It covers everything, from weeds to ants and roaches to fleas and ticks and other problems with pets, to community-wide problems like yellow jackets and rats. It’s a really great book.