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Published:July 24th, 2011 15:37 EST
Bed Bugs are Back and Biting in the US

Bed Bugs are Back and Biting in the US

By Donna Cavanagh

Allow me to get right to the point: What the hell is going on with bed bugs?  Didn`t humanity get rid of these blood-sucking pests centuries ago?  Why are they back? Who exactly invited them in?

I can understand that a few may have been hiding out in undisclosed bunkers after most of their peers were obliterated by pesticides, but these resilient survivors have now come out of hiding and have managed to reproduce enough so that they are once again a threat to those seeking a good night`s sleep.  Now, insomniacs not only stay awake because they fear what`s going to happen tomorrow, they stay awake because they fear what`s happening in their beds at night.

I know we all get itchy if we find a spider in our bedrooms. I lived in NYC throughout college, so an occasional cockroach came to visit. I always had that sensation that something sinister was crawling under the covers " well, you know, not human.  Anyway, I slept with a can of Raid next to my bed for four years. My roommate was a heavy smoker (back in the days when smoking was allowed in dorms), and to this day, I truly believe that the combination of second-hand smoke and the bug spray has cut my life span by at least five years.  Not to mention it was tough to date when guys think your scent is "Eau de Ant and Roach Spray", but that`s another story for another time.

I first heard about the return of bed bugs last year when my daughter`s friend asked me to edit a paper she was doing for a college course (Yes, I am on every college kid`s speed dial for editing, but that`s okay - as long as they write it themselves).  As I read this paper, I initially thought that it was for a science fiction course or a horror movie course, but no, this was a paper on real life current events.  According to the paper, bed bugs have made a ferocious return to our world.  I am not talking an incident in some trailer park somewhere. No, they were once again becoming a problem at some of the swankiest addresses in America.

Being a person who embraces denial and believes that it is highly underrated, I shrugged this report off as sensationalism. I thought the kid had gone out of her way to find facts that would make her paper stand out from the rest. But then I started to read more and more articles about the new infestation.  Bed bugs were showing up in luxury hotels, upscale clothing stores, hospitals and college dorms.  For God`s sake, Victoria`s Secret in NYC was attacked!

When some people heard about the bed bugs at the New York Victoria`s Secret store, they screamed that the infestation was planted, and it was the work of extremist religious groups who were out to destroy the Great Satan known as America. Others said it was a sign from God warning us to repent from our wanton ways. I had more practical concerns like where did the parasites find room to set up their homes?  Were they living in the padding of push up bras?  I`m not sure where else they could breed. Most of Victoria`s Secret stuff does not have that much material to support one bed bug let alone an infestation. Fortunately, the store did get it under control quickly and it was able to save their sexy lingerie which only proves that God was not mad at Victoria`s Secret after all.   

However, that infestation was only one of many, and now stores like Bed Bath & Beyond sell bed bug repellent spray.  Where was that spray hiding all these years?  How did the pesticide companies get this product out so fast? Hotel chains were also hit with the biting creatures.  This is not good.  The hospitality industry had just climbed back from all the reports from the tabloid news shows that went around to big-name hotels with CSI lights to show the hideous germs that live on after guests check out of their rooms.  Hotels finally convinced the traveling public that they clean their rooms and that their beds are safe, and now they have to deal with bed bugs?  I will admit that since those reports aired that illuminated all the gross things in hotels, I always travel with a can of Lysol, but Lysol does not kill bed bugs.

Well, the good news is that bed bugs can be killed pretty readily, and I am all for killing them. Poison them; suffocate them; do away with them in any way that works.   I don`t want to hear from PETA or other animal rights groups that my views are harsh and that these pests have feelings and deserve the right to live.  Screw that. Give me the tank of poison gas, and I`ll get rid of them myself.

Hey, if you are a bug that lives outside of my house, you have little to fear, and I will grant you the right to live. Invade my living space and my mantra changes from "live and let live" to "the only good bug is a dead bug".  Bedbugs, take this as a warning. It`s the only one you will get.