Hollywood doesn’t need a blockbuster horror show to frighten holiday crowds; bed bugs already have America in a panic! Nationwide hysteria over Cimex lectularius,What to Do if Bed Bugs Come Visiting for the Holidays Articles the common bed bug, has created an atmosphere of paranoia that is affecting the usually festive mood of the upcoming holidays. Fear that holiday guests might bring bed bugs into their home has strained the hospitality of many usually affable hosts, placing additional stress on family gatherings. Fear of picking up these tiny, blood-sucking parasites from an infected hotel room and carrying them home has caused many people to cancel holiday travel plans and forego long-anticipated visits with relatives.
In the October 18, 2010 issue of Time magazine, humor columnist Joel Stein poked fun at the bed bug paranoia sweeping the country. Expecting holiday guests who will stay in several hotels during their cross-country trek from New York City, bed bug ground zero, Stein said his wife Cassandra “has been trying to find a way to trick my father and his wife . . . into being hosed down with boiling water before entering our home.”
Laughing about our fears may keep us from being overwhelmed by Pest control hysteria, but an invasion of bed bugs is no laughing matter. Slightly smaller than an apple seed, adult bed bugs are brownish-red, wingless, flat-bodied insects that crawl into your bed at night to feed on your blood while you sleep. While bed bugs are not known to transmit disease, their bites can cause serious allergic reactions and skin infections. Additionally, these tiny insects provoke a psychological horror that can leave victims feeling nervous, anxious and jumpy for months.
“They’re creepy. They’re invading your sanctuary, your bed, and suddenly you can’t sleep because they’re coming out of your walls, out of your box springs, to feed on you in the night,” entomologist Jeffrey White, star of the Internet series Bed Bug TV, said in the October 4 2010, issue of Time. “I’ve seen people fall apart emotionally because of an infestation.”
Equal opportunity pests, bed bugs are attracted solely by human blood, not refuse or poor housecleaning. You’re as likely to encounter bed bugs at an expensive luxury hotel as a cheap interstate motel. New York’s famed Waldorf-Astoria, hotel to the world’s wealthy elite, has been sued three times in recent months by guests claiming to have been bitten by bed bugs. It is becoming nearly impossible to avoid these pests. A growing problem in hotels, apartment buildings and college dormitories for the past few years, bed bugs have started cropping up in office buildings, retail stores, movie theaters, schools, hospitals, subways, trains, airline baggage compartments and single-family homes. To contract bed bugs, you need only sit in a cab or stay in a hotel room recently vacated by an infected person.