Bedbugs. They used to be a phrase in a children’s rhyme, something the other guy worried about. Never anyone in your neighborhood. Never you yourself.
That may no longer be true. Although a U.S. rarity in the latter part of the 20th century, bedbugs nowadays are proliferating, spreading like a BP miscalculation in places you’d least expect. A scourge about which you once had no reason to worry could soon be feasting on you and yours.
New York City Especially Hard Hit
Although you’d think to find them only on skid row, that’s no longer the case at all. Today’s more upscale bedbugs have acquired tony tastes. As of this writing, the on-line Bed Bug Registry has fingered at least 113 New York City hotels currently rated #1 by bedbugs in the know. The bad-boy list includes such bright lights as the Hilton New York, the Grand Hyatt New York, and the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers — and that’s only three.
If I See a Bedbug in My Room, I’ll Check Out Immediately
Problem is, you may not see one until it’s too late. Creatures of the night, these nasty little beasties hide out their days in cracks and crevices, bedclothes and vehicles, ensuring that you’ll never see one until after you’ve hit the sack. Suddenly, they’re everywhere you want to be, dining in style on your tasty blood, when all you really wanted was a good night’s sleep.
Bedbugs Love to Travel
Once you’ve actually spent some time in an infested hotel room, you can say goodbye to bug-free nights back home. According to the Bed Bug Registry, these critters know how to travel, happy to cop a free ride in your suitcase beside those souvenir mugs and plastic Statues of Liberty. Play it safe and check the registry before choosing your hotel.
Too Late; I’ve Got Them. How Do I Get Rid of Bedbugs?
If they’ve hitched a ride in your carry-on, throw it out immediately and (if you can bear to) its contents as well. Now you’ve got to “do in” the rest of them as soon as possible. Extended periods of extreme heat or cold have been known to kill bedbugs, but don’t waste too much time on home remedies. A professional exterminator may be your best bet.
How Long Do Bedbugs Live?
Too long. A bedbug can live without a single meal for as long as a year. Bedbugs only eat about once every five to ten days, which is probably the only good thing about them.
What If a Bedbug Bites Me?
Whatever you do, don’t scratch! It will only make the reaction worse. Wash the area with warm soapy water, and apply an anti-itch preparation.
How to Avoid Bedbugs in the First Place
You’re most likely to pick up bedbugs in any place where larger numbers of people reside. In addition to hotels, such places as dormitories, hospitals, cruise ships, shelters and apartment houses — as well as the clothing of people who’ve slept in those locations — can result in an infestation at your house.
Be Afraid — But Not Too Afraid
Regardless of appearances, bedbugs are really not everywhere you want to be. So don’t let the bedbug situation put the kibosh on your New York City vacation. But until the crisis has passed, it wouldn’t hurt to do your research. A word to the wise, as they say.
The Bed Bug Registry
Harvard School of Public Health: Bed Bugs