The truth is bed bugs can be an itchy topic. Bed bugs have been dining on humankind since ancient times, but they have made a bigger comeback than ever. According to research at the Mayo Clinic, bed bugs had been eradicated with the help of a pesticide known as DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane)1. Today, DDT use has been banned in the US since it was found to be extremely harmful to human health and toxic to the environment. Pesticides like DDT can cause serious health effects. In this article we will discuss how to prevent and control bed bugs from entering into your family’s home. We will also discuss the safest, healthiest, and most economical ways to handle these uninvited guests.
The risk of picking up these little hitchhikers has increased significantly. Bed bugs are typically exchanged where people are coming and going often and/or crowded places. You may be at a greater risk of bringing these uninvited guests into your home if you have spent time (or plan to spend time) in hotels, motels, inns, hospitals, apartment complexes, and college dorms.
Another factor that may put your family at risk for bed bug infestations is buying second-hand items. The economy has impacted families across the country, so it is not surprising why more people are buying family necessities second-hand. Be careful! A great bargain may give you a warm feeling in your wallet, but you may find yourself in a severe case of the bed bugs. The following items should not be purchased at a second-hand store unless absolutely necessary: mattresses, box springs, bedding, linens, and furniture. The list is not all inclusive. Always use your best judgment when shopping second-hand. The truth about bed bugs is they do not mind if your home is clean or dirty, they simply need you- a host to live off of.
Prevention is truly the key to protecting yourself against these parasites. According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), bed bug populations in different geographic areas of the country have developed resistance to various pesticide modes of action2. If you are dealing with a resistant population some products may only make the problem worse. The safest way to prevent bed bugs without the use of toxic chemicals in your home is to use a mattress that is a naturally resistant to bed bugs. The best type of mattress to help fight the war against bed bugs is one made of foam. The bed bugs are less likely to be able to live IN the mattress as they cannot move easily through the foam like a spring mattress that has open spaces within the mattress.
A memory foam mattress is an affordable and easy way to protect you and your family. Another practical method of preventing an infestation is to invest in a research backed, bed bug resistant mattress cover. These covers will incase the entire mattress and trap the bed bugs, preventing them from getting to a host (You!). Bed bugs are very resilient and can live up to a year without feeding! A mattress cover is beneficial so that if an infestation occurs you will not have to throw out your mattress. Remember- bed bugs are visible (dust mites are not) and can be vacuumed away, so be sure to vacuum regularly if you suspect an infestation.
So, “Sleep tight, and don’t let the bed bugs bite!”
 Staff, Mayo Clinic. “Bedbugs: Risk Factors – MayoClinic.com.” Mayo Clinic. Sept. 2010. Web. 03 Mar. 2011. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bedbugs/DS00663/DSECTION=risk-factors>.
 “Bed Bugs | Pesticides | US EPA.” US Environmental Protection Agency. Web. 08 Mar. 2011. <http://www.epa.gov/bedbugs/>.