March 16th, 2012 by Tom Cranford
Bed bugs, the roommates that no one wants. Not only are they an itchy, painful nuisance, but they’re difficult houseguests to evict. If you’ve been watching the news recently or surfing the web, then you’ve probably noticed that infestations are on the rise. Denver, Colorado is one of the worst hit cities west of the Mississippi, and, in densely populated states like New Jersey, bed bugs are a persistent, growing problem.
For only being several millimeters long, bed bugs are hard to miss. They thrive on blood, human and animal, and their bites can leave mosquito-sized bumps or bigger. The welts often take a long time to fade, and the human sufferer is constantly scratching. Although it’s rare to have an allergic reaction, some people suffer from nausea when bitten a lot.
Why are bed bugs rampant now? Scientists speculate that bed bug populations were mostly eradicated by the popular use of the pesticide DDT. In 1972, though, DDT was banned because of its negative effects on human health. Since then, bed bugs have made a comeback in almost every country in the world.
Dealing with an infestation using green solutions typically will not get rid of them immediately or all at once. It takes consistent treatments and vigilance to eradicate the pests from your home completely. However, people who are sensitive to strong chemicals or conscientious about the impact on our environment, harsh fumigation agents are not an option.
Remember that temperatures above 120° kill them, so steam cleaning drapes, upholstery, and carpets is essential. So is running all clothes and bedding through the dryer. The common green solution of Diatomaceous Earth is non-toxic as long as it’s not inhaled directly by children or pets. This dusty substance dehydrates the bugs until they die.
Once you rid your home of bed bugs, ensure that they don’t reappear by being vigilant of the items that travel with you. Suitcases and duffel bags are common carriers of the pests. Don’t forget to check the recycled cloth bags that you use to transport groceries and other store-bought items.
Experts recommend enclosing all clean clothes and bedding in plastic, zip-lock bags. For long-term storage, plastic bins should be used with the lids duct-taped shut. Polyethylene is the safest plastic. If you can find bags made of this, you can ensure that you’re utilizing the least toxic option. To save your mattresses, you can make your very own mattress encasement. Using Reflectix, a layer of foil sandwiched between two layers of polyethylene plastic, and duct tape, you can protect your mattress from future invasions. Just be sure to inspect the encasement regularly for holes.
Ridding your home of bed bugs is a tedious and sometimes expensive process, but an uninterrupted night’s sleep and peace of mind make it worthwhile. Green solutions are the best way to avoid exposure to strong pesticides and toxic fumes for you and your family. Be persistent and watchful, and you can restore peace and a pest-free environment to your home.
Image Credit: Jason Eppink
Keep up to date with all the most interesting green news on the planet by subscribing to our (free) Planetsave newsletter.