10 Need-to-Know Myths to Protect Your Boston Apartment
Your parents used to say “don’t let the bed bugs bite.” Now that you’re moving into your own Boston apartment, it’s time you give this advice another thought! As reported in the NBC New York news story, “Beware of Bed Bugs: Cases Set to Surge This Summer,” bed bug complaints in New York City apartments are up 8 percent from last year with over 13,000 bed bug complaints in 2010. Jeffrey White, a research entomologist for bed bugcentral.com anticipates worse bed bug outbreaks this year than last. Boston apartment residents are lucky that our city hasn’t shown up on the Top Ten Worst Bed Bug Infested Cities, but the bed bug problem persists even here.
You need to know the myths and facts about bed bugs in order to identify and fight these bugs. We’ve compiled a list of 10 bed bug myths to help you protect yourself and your Boston apartment from the Back Bay to the West End.
Myth 1: Bed bugs only show up in dirty apartments and on dirty people.
Bed bugs aren’t attracted to dirt; they’re attracted to exhaled carbon dioxide and heat. They feed on blood and can infest any location regardless of how clean it is. Bed bugs have been known to show up anywhere from South End to North End apartments. You can bring bed bugs home with you merely by coming into contact with a person or location contaminated with bed bugs.
Myth 2: Bed bugs only live in beds and mattresses.
Bed bugs spend 90 percent of their time hiding and can live almost anywhere: on furniture, walls, clothing, carpets, or pictures. Don’t think that just by throwing away your mattress will solve your bed bug problem because they often spread to areas around your bed as well: within the cracks of furniture, along the baseboards of walls, inside electric outlets, laptops, and even cell phones!
Myth 3: Bed bugs are too small to see.
So you’re sitting in your Brookline or Charlestown apartment; can you spot a bed bug? Adult bed bugs are relatively easy to spot; they are reddish-brown and 3mm–5mm in size. Recently hatched larvae tend to be harder to see at 1mm–2mm in size. Until the larva feed on blood, they remain a pale white.
Myth 4: I have bite marks, but my partner doesn’t. I can’t have bed bugs!
Bites can differ in size from person-to-person based on individual allergic reactions to the bites. Bites may leave no marks, small bumps, or even large welts. If your partner doesn’t have bite marks but you do, your Boston apartment could still harbor bed bugs.
Myth 5: Bed bugs are killed by the cold.
Houses heated to 70 degrees Celsius for 3 hours only kill about 78% of bed bugs on average. Cold temperature treatments don’t fare much better. In fact, bed bugs can survive for a long time in below freezing temperatures. Overall, the cold treatment is unreliable even during a Boston winter. Although hot steam treatments work, you must remember that you may not be killing all of the bugs that are hiding.
Myth 6: Bed bugs transmit diseases.
Many scientific research studies have found that luckily bed bugs don’t transmit diseases; however, scratching bed bug bites can lead to secondary infections. Make sure to get medical attention if your bites appear infected.
Myth 7: You can feel a bed bug biting you.
Bed bugs inject their saliva before feeding on blood so you won’t feel their bite. However, like a mosquito bite, bed bug bites can be itchy later based on how allergic you are to their saliva. Also, beg bugs are generally more active at night and may bite you while you are sleeping.
Myth 8: You can kill bed bugs with any insecticide.
Although bug bombs may kill a number of bed bugs, their use generally causes the bed bugs to scatter and actually make your Boston apartment’s infestation worse. Directly spraying bed bugs with insecticides may kill the ones you hit; however, you can’t count on getting all of them with a direct spraying. Also, many insecticides will not work on all the stages of the bed bug life cycle.
Myth 9: Bed bugs are resistant to all pesticides.
Not all pesticides kill bed bugs, but many pesticides do. Consult a professional exterminator to determine which methods will work best for your situation.
Adult bed bugs can live for a year or more without feeding so ignoring the problem will only make it worse.
Understanding these myths will hopefully make you more aware so that you can effectively deal with any buggy Boston real estate situation. Your best bet is to consult with a professional exterminator to prepare an integrated pest management solution, which involves a regiment of spraying, vacuuming, steaming, laundering and sealing in order to kill and prevent the infestation of bed bugs. We hope you sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite! Now, let’s hear your bed bug stories!
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