PUBLISHED ON October 20th, 2011
The need for bed bug pest control has exploded in the last couple of years. Pest control professionals are now reporting bed bug infestations in all fifty states, and virtually every pest control provider has responded to a call for bed bug pest control. And, according to Pest Control Technology magazine, 84 percent of pest management professionals report that bed bug infestations continue to rise.
Yet, there is no real health hazard posed by bed bugs; Seattle’s Environmental Health Services department writes, “Bed bug bites are a nuisance and annoying, but bed bugs are not known to spread diseases.” Although bed bug specimens have been found to contain 27 agents of human disease (bacteria, protozoa, parasitic worms), these microscopic carriers of disease cannot multiply within bed bugs, and there is no evidence that transmittable ailments such as HIV and Hepatitis B can be spread via bed bugs.
Still, a bed bug infestation affects a person’s life in many unsavory ways, as described below. From Sacramento to Seattle, bed bugs are such extreme irritants that an infestation forces people to almost immediately arrange for bed bug pest control.
Kevin Ochsner, professor of psychology at Columbia University, says knowing bed bugs are sharing your abode has an extreme psychological effect. Intense feelings of fear and anxiety are triggered for those who suffer bed bug infestations. Lying in bed late at night, these poor souls imagine hoards of bed bugs overrunning their bodies as they sleep. As Ochsner recently explained on NPR’s Science Friday, bed bugs can cause our “imagination to run wild,” triggering the parts of the brain that evolved to make us feel fear regarding real external threats. For instance, the amygdala (a structure in the brain that contributes to emotional learning) is activated when one imagines being overwhelmed by bed bugs in the night, “like a horror movie,” as Ochsner puts it. In other words, our brains get fooled into thinking bed bugs are an extreme threat, when really, their blood-sucking ways have little real impact on our health. Pair that response with the psychological associations we have with our beds as safe, warm, restorative places, and you can appreciate the fear and anxiety associated with bed bug infestations.
Talk about sleepless in Seattle! Bed bugs make it nearly impossible to get a good night’s sleep. If you’re lucky enough to have avoided a bed bug pest control problem to this point, imagine this: You’re lying still in bed, waiting to fall asleep. It’s dark. You can almost hear the scampering of hundreds of tiny feet as the bed bugs make their way out of the walls and baseboards and into your bed. Was that a bite you just felt? Or was that just your imagination? Bed bugs can make you think you’re going crazy. And their painful, itchy bites can make it impossible to drift off to sleep.
When New Yorkers first started reporting bed bug infestations over a year ago, the social stigma associated with these little vampires quickly turned ugly. If your friends find out your home contains a bed bug pest control problem, they might stop hanging out with you. As bed bug victim Jeremy Sparig told the New York Times, “They don’t want to hug you anymore; they don’t want you coming over.” His wife added, “You’re like a leper.” Indeed, the 2010 Bed Bugs in America study found that of those who know someone with a bed bug infestation, 40 percent avoid entering the infested homes, and 33 percent discourage their bed bug-ridden friends from entering their own homes.
There is one potentially dangerous effect of bed bugs. Seattle to New York, certain people are especially allergic to bed bug bites, which usually appear as mosquito-bite-like welts. If bed bug bites are scratched to the point of breaking the skin, infections may follow. Infected bed bug bites should receive immediate medical attention, as they could carry certain staph bacteria.
As you can see, bed bugs are no laughing matter. When suffering from an infestation of bed bugs, Seattle or Portland residents should contact a local bed bug pest control company for relief. After all, it’s not enough to simply command someone, “Sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite!” If you have a bed bug infestation, there’s really no way to avoid being bitten – unless you call for bed bug pest control.