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Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite



This week’s news explored the plight of low-income tenants forced from their home for complaining to their landlord about bed bugs. According to a Salt Lake Valley Health Department scientist, however, it’s not just low-income that need to look out for the pests.---

Bed bugs, says Lora Lee, an environmental health scientist with the Salt Lake Valley Health Department are not discriminating pests. “They don’t care how much money they make, they just want your blood,” Lee says. “They don’t care if you’re poor or dirty or anything, that’s a misconception.”

Lee who has in the past few years seen a steady increase in bed bug complaints says that Utah renters and homeowners should remember that the pests are generally harmless and remember there are specific steps that can be taken to wipe out the pests. Here are some strategies she shared with City Weekly.

The Attack:

Heat, Lee, says is generally the preferred extermination method. While some sprays can be used to kill bed bugs, Lee points out that a chemical insecticide will only be effective against the pests if the chemical makes direct contact. A bed bug can easily walk over sprayed areas and not be harmed.

• Use a vacuum: And use the hose. That will be able to get into tight spots where bed bugs are likely hiding. Once you’ve sucked up the little vampires, immediately dispose of the vacuum bag. Otherwise the bed bugs will simply crawl back out again. Also vacuum in the morning. Bed bugs are still fat in the morning from sucking your blood the night before and can’t hide as well, so they’ll be more out in the open.

• Throw sheets into the laundry on high for at least 20 minutes.

• Vacuum the bed, mattress and box spring while the laundry is frying the bed bugs.

• Repeat this process for at least several days in a row: The same bed bugs don’t feed every night. Some will eat and relax and not come out to eat again until days later. The vacuum and laundry attack needs to be repeated often to get all the bed bugs.

The Defense: Spotting a bed bug problem when you travel is a good way to avoid bringing the little buggers home with you.

• Bed bugs leave behind tell-tale rust-colored defecation stains on sheets and pillows. If you see these you may have a problem. If you see these in a hotel room or perhaps on a piece of old furniture or clothing you might be considering purchasing, be careful, you might be buying more than you’re asking for.

• Don’t leave backpacks or a lot of possessions around your bed. Bed bugs can attach to these and then use them for access to your bed.

• Reinforce the bedposts! You can place Vaseline along you bed posts to thwart bed bugs that might attempt to scale them. This won’t address the main problem but will at least help stop the siege and let you get some rest.

• You can’t hide from bed bugs! Bed bugs hone in on body heat. So if you’re thinking of abandoning your bed as a lost cause, think again—bed bugs will eventually track you down and find your new resting spot in the home whether that’s someone else’s bed or the couch, it will just lead to another battleground between you and the bugs.

For more info on beating back the bugs visit the Salt Lake Valley Health Department’s bed bug page for tips on sleeping tight and bite free.