The Pandemic Could Spare Us From One other Plague: Bedbugs


A friend whose suitcase apparently turned into a bedbug vector while being stored in the luggage room of a high-end New York state hotel found one crawling on her as she put on nightwear and sat down to read shortly after arriving in Brooklyn. She spent $ 1,300 fumigating the house and routinely quarantine her luggage and contents in the freezing cold after a trip to minimize the risk of repeated invasion.

What my friend didn’t know, however, is that bedbugs can live for many months without feeding on human blood. Therefore, waiting weeks for unpacking may not help. Brooklyn backyards, and even the home freezers, may not be cold enough to kill them: experts recommend minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit.

As an orkin entomologist, Chelle Hartzer warned of bed bugs: “They are excellent hitchhikers and reproduce quickly, making it nearly impossible to prevent bed bugs.” The increase in domestic and international travel in recent decades has contributed significantly to their current ubiquity. They make control efforts difficult and are resistant to the most common insecticides, including pyrethroids.

Nobody, not the most demanding of us, is immune to bedbugs. They can be found in almost every place where people sit or sleep – in cinemas, offices, schools, churches, hospitals, buses, trains, cruise ships and airplanes, as well as in hotels and private homes. According to a detailed report by Australian scientists in Clinical Microbiology Reviews, an entire building can start infesting with just a few bedbugs, or possibly even a single woman.

An impregnated female can lay two to five eggs a day.

And the mistakes can be devilishly difficult to spot. The eggs of this flightless insect are pearly white and the size of the head of a pin. Adults are tan or maroon (if they recently had a blood meal) and are the size of an apple seed, about an inch long. Two French doctors, who wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine in June, reported: “In between blood meals, bedbugs hide in dark places such as household cracks and crevices, walls, luggage, bedding, mattresses, bed springs, bed frames and interstices, loose or peeling baseboards Wallpaper, electric circuit boards and conduits for electric cables. “