We all remember the bed-bug epidemic of summer 2010. The constant commercials on television, the fear of public places, bugs in Bloomingdales...BLOOMINGDALES! Was nowhere safe? Was nothing sacred What was the modern Manhattan dweller to do? The answer seemed obvious to most; stop shaking hands, skip the theater for Netflix, and buy your clothes online. There must be some sort of Freaokonmics-style connection between the surge of online retailers and the subconscious consumer fear of coming home with the human version of fleas. But just when we thought we would have to live in hermetically sealed apartments and burn all of our belongings, the invasion stopped. Again, we were free to venture into a multiplex, or try on a sweater at the Gap without fear, as our forefathers intended. We were safe...or were we?
We don't see as many articles about bed bugs anymore, but a lack of media coverage doesn't mean they went anywhere. Bed bugs have a great sense of timing, and feeling the rising-anxiety levels of PR girls across the land, they are ready to make their return just in time for fashion week. So, before you run around hugging every girl wearing a fur vest during Fashion's Night Out, here are some facts you may want to know about these little critters:
10. Bed bugs are social climbers: While you may never run into a bed-bug bite in your whole life, that doesn't mean you're immune. Let's repeat the obvious: An infestation can happen to anyone. These pests do not discriminate based on socio-economic class. So, your friend who has all the parties at that amazing, immaculate Tribeca loft isn't getting a bite-free ride.
9. Learn to wake up naturally: Bed Bugs like to infest household appliances, like alarm clocks, coffee makers, and toasters. Anywhere with dark crevices for them to hide. Use your iPhone as an alarm and drink a Red Bull if you really need a pick-me-up in the morning.
8. Cockroaches, Cher, and bed bugs live on: Bed bugs can live on for up to 12 months without feeding, so it's important to trap them in bed-bug proof mattress liners and linens to cut them off from their food supply indefinitely.
7. They mate like rabbits: Depending on conditions, bed bugs can produce three or four generations in one year. Females can lay anywhere between one and five eggs a day. Unlike bunnies, finding many where there was once one is not a fun surprise.
6. It doesn't kill you, but it doesn't make you stronger, either: Bed bugs do not carry deadly diseases, but bites can cause allergic reactions and itching similar to those of mosquito bites.
5. They are fans of Twilight: Bed bugs feed on the blood of human beings and other animals such as dogs, cats, birds, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, and mice. You are their Bella.
4. You can't freeze them out: Though infestations are more prominent during warmer months, bed bugs can and do survive in the cold climates, as most infestations are indoors
3. They are well-traveled: Bed bugs are easily transferred on clothing and suitcases, so beware; while you rack up those frequent-flier miles, you're also racking up your chances to catch unwanted travel companions.
2. They. Are. Everywhere.: They're found close to where they feed. Typically, they're found in bed mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and anywhere around the bed. They're also found in electric outlets, switches, and behind pictures. Bed bugs can be found in hotels, motels, dormitories, apartments, condos, private homes, and even in public places, such as retail stores, movie theaters, businesses, and offices
1. They will not be ignored: It's difficult to kill all bed bugs with one visit from the exterminator. Successful bed-bug control involves vacuuming, steaming, and laundering belongings, sealing areas and gaps where bed bugs can hide, as well as encasing mattresses, box springs, and pillows with bed bug-proof protectors. You don't have to get rid of everything you own, but it's not a "one and done," either. Even after all of this, you will need to stay vigilant to make sure you have successfully rid yourself of these unwelcome visitors.
Now that I've got you sufficiently scared, get yourself prepared. For more information on how to rid your space of bed bugs, as well as how to prevent them in the first place, visit this NYC health website. They have a wealth of information. And remember, as the summer ends and the parties begin, air kisses may be the way to go.
Image from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene