The bed bug epidemic plaguing this country right now has quite understandably resulted in a significant amount of information about these insects, often times overwhelming those individuals unfortunate enough to have to deal with an infestation. Some of these so called “facts” concern themselves with the very nature and physiology of these insects and there is also a good bit of lore related to potential treatment methods or indeed even bed bug prevention techniques.
Misconceptions about bed bug biology or behavior are relatively harmless, provided an appropriate treatment course is quickly embarked upon. Unfortunately embracing ineffective treatment myths comes with a considerable downside, as everyday wasted on a worthless treatment regime allows the bed bug infestation to continue to grow, as the females lay evermore eggs, which then hatch and emerge as even more bed bugs, adding to the infestation.
Writing bed bug blog articles, based on how I see things, does come with a very definite responsibility to provide people factual information about bed bugs and most importantly how to effectively treat a bed bug infestation. However I do also believe that if I wish my articles to be read and remembered I should also attempt to make the subject of bed bugs a little entertaining (maybe just for me) and when some of those bed bug myths can be likened to the beliefs of the “Elvis is Alive” crowd I have decided to pass some of them along.
While operating the Lights Out website I have fielded many customer service telephone calls and emails and have compiled an interesting list of the most memorable, giving rise to this article’s title “Bed Bug Myths, Misconceptions & Plain Old Mumbo-Jumbo”. One worth mentioning came from a customer I spoke to who informed me it was their belief that “….bed bugs were a plague sent by God to afflict mankind!” I certainly had no intention of arguing this point, or really even discussing it, but I did suggest to the customer “…that Lights Out as a remedy to this problem was entirely secular in nature.” The customer replied “that’s okay honey, because you have been put here by God, to help deal with this affliction!” Hey whatever works and end of conversation. Another customer firmly stated that “…. bed bugs were of an alien origin and that is what makes them so difficult to kill!”Too much X-File watching I guess. I will say however that it might well be possible for space travelers to spread them to other planets, but enough said on that. Under the category of “treatment myths” I was informed by an individual, that they were told by a friend that “…soaking the legs of their bed in water would keep the bed bugs from being able to climb up into their bed to bite them!” This person pursued this course of treatment for far longer than they should have and by the time they realized that it was nothing but a waste of good water they had a raging bed bug infestation on their hands. The ultimate in treatment extremes was suggested to me by an individual who had clearly reached the end of their rope and stated that “…I think I will just burn my house down!” Strictly from a technical perspective this would work, to eliminate a bed bug infestation, but is probably just a bit too much cure for the disease. Now I could go on and on with these myths and misconceptions, but will simply detail a few more of them below.
Bed bugs have wings and can fly. Untrue; bed bugs can only crawl and quite slowly at that (about 1 yard a minute).Bed bugs do like to hitchhike on an individual’s clothing, luggage or other items they might be carrying (this is how they spread themselves so effectively).
Bed bugs cannot be seen with the naked eye.False; bed bugs are small but are visible.
Bed bugs only bite in the dark, so keeping a light on will stop them from biting. False; if a bed bug is hungry it will bite at any time light or dark.
Bed bugs prefer dirty unsanitary conditions. False; bed bugs can be found in the cleanest or dirtiest environments. Eliminating clutter will give them fewer places to hide.
Bed bugs spread disease. Maybe/Maybe Not? There are varying medical opinions on this topic.The Center for Disease Control indicated in their journal in September of 2011, that they did not believe that bed bugs transmitted any serious diseases; to the contrary in an article in The American Journal of Medicine, in 2012, a team of researchers theorized that bed bites, in certain individuals could have some very serious consequences. At the very least we do know that many people have reported associated anxiety and insomnia and of course the necessity of treating the bites to prevent scratching and scarring.
Bed bugs only live in mattresses. False; bed bugs live anywhere in a room where they can hide and can be found on any kind of surface, including sofas, chairs, furniture, or ceilings.
Bed bugs are more prevalent in warmer climates.False; bed bugs are not affected by climate or season. They are indoor pests and can exist anywhere inside a home, apartment, building or vehicle.
Bed bugs can only be controlled by poisonous pesticides. False; there is a substantial body of research showing that bed bugs can develop immunity to the pyrethroid based poisonous pesticides commonly sold in grocery stores or other retailers. They then pass this immunity on to succeeding generations.
Products can make claims about their effectiveness with no proof. True; certain products not containing poisonous pesticides are exempt from EPA registration requirements and make exaggerated claims with no actual proof of their effectiveness.
It would be easy to continue the above list with many other bed bug myths, misconceptions, or indeed “mumbo-jumbo”, that people experiencing a bed bug infestation have related to us. I am certain you also realize, by now, how important it is to stick to the proven facts. One very important proven fact that I have not addressed until now is that Lights Out Bed Bug Killer and Insect Spray is 100% non-toxic to humans and pets and is the only safe bed bug killing product with true third party independent laboratory testing certifying both its safety and efficacy. Other so-called safe products make claims regarding their effectiveness, but do not have the actual independent laboratory testing to prove their claims. Unfortunately many people trying to safely treat a bed bug infestation have found this out and wasted their money on these ineffective products. More importantly they have wasted valuable time waiting for a product to work, that never will, and their bed bug infestation just continues to get worse. Lights Out has this proof and the letter is on the website, from the American Academy of Entomological Sciences; one of the country’s most prestigious independent testing laboratories.