Smorgasbord Health Column – Time to revisit the #BedBug Infestations! – Unwanted bedmates!

It is time to update the bed bug post from last year, as this longer and dryer summer has resulted in a rise in reported infestations in the US and in the UK.

Here is a look at some of the statistics on for the US compiled from the  2018 Bugs Without Borders survey conducted by the National Pest Management Association

  • Almost all (97 percent) pest professionals have treated bed bugs in the past year. A majority of them say that overall bed bug service work (69 percent) and the prevalence of these pests (66 percent) are increasing.
  • Bed bugs may be easily confused with other pests, as 84 percent of pest control professionals were initially contacted about a different type of pest before identifying them as bed bugs. The majority of these contacts (71 percent) were about fleas, followed by cockroaches (28 percent).
  • More than half of pest control professionals noted that they receive the most bed bug complaints during the summer, as increased travel during this time of the year may help spread bed bugs from vacation destinations to homes or even college lodgings to homes as students go on summer break.
  • The top three places where pest professionals report finding bed bugs are single-family homes (91 percent), apartments/condominiums (89 percent), and hotels/motels (68 percent). Past surveys have shown these environments to consistently be the top three where bed bugs have been encountered.
  • Bed bugs are also found seemingly everywhere else and in higher numbers, such as nursing homes (59 percent), schools and daycare centers (47 percent), offices (46 percent), college dorms (45 percent), hospitals (36 percent) and public transportation (19 percent).
  • Bites are the most commonly reported sign of an infestation (92 percent) and more than half of people reach out for treatment after discovering bites and welts on their bodies. Although some people immediately develop a skin reaction to bites, others may take two to three days before showing obvious symptoms or any symptoms at all, meaning that people could be unaware of a bed bug problem until a full-blown infestation has taken root.
  • Typically found in couches and bed frames, bed bugs can also be found in some of the most unexpected places, including stuffed animals, wheelchairs, airplanes, school buses, purses and even inside bedside lamps.

And this article in the UK Guardian a couple of months ago Bedbug plague hits British Cities

The UK is facing an exponential increase in bedbug infestation as a result of this summer’s hot weather, which is exacerbating a major problem in densely populated cities, experts are warning.

In higher temperatures, the reproductive cycle of the bugs – Cimex lectularius – shortens from 18-21 days to eight or nine days, according to David Cain, of extermination company Bed Bugs Limited.

The problem is compounded by social stigma which often results in a reluctance to seek help, and because a significant proportion of the population have no physical reaction to bedbug bites so may be unaware of an infestation. “The problem has been spreading globally since the late 1990s, and there is literally no country on the face of the planet that hasn’t had a bedbug problem,” said Cain.

You can read the rest of the article here: Bedbug Plague

I must admit to being paranoid about sleeping in beds other than my own. Before everybody becomes hot under the collar I do mean this in in terms of hygiene…..

Unfortunately, many of us are sharing our bed with more than the partner of our choice and these invisible bedfellows are very much more difficult to get rid of…

Bed bugs have been part of our human life cycle for hundreds of years if not thousands. They love warm blood and will infest areas close to that source of nourishment including in seams and cracks in the mattress, in furniture and soft furnishings close to a bed and in seams of duvets and bed-linen.

I am paranoid about staying hotels when travelling and part of my luggage is my first defence…this video should not be watched before you eat… or before going to bed!!!

The infestations are on the increase, and even the swankiest of hotels are not guaranteed to be without these freeloading guests. Our modern travel habits ensure that suit cases and clothing, travelling with us between continents, can carry the bugs without detection from one bed to another. We now travel to more and more destinations, some of which have extremely high incidences of bed bug infestations particularly at the lower end of the accommodation price range such as hostels. Whilst the cost may be attractive you may be taking away more than the complimentary soap and shampoo.

Most of the pesticides from the early 50’s that were used against these pests were banned, quite rightly, because of their effect on humans. Although more modern extermination methods have been developed, in the intervening years the bugs have had time to develop resistance to certain chemicals.

If you have unexplained rashes particularly that you cannot identify it might be worth checking some of the sites for photographs of bedbug bites. Usually uniform in size and rather random they will have a conformity to the groupings.

There is no evidence that the bites themselves have any long term health implications but they are very itchy and after several nights of disrupted sleep you will be putting yourself at risk of general health problems such as minor infections.

Bed bugs  live in the rest of the house too – particularly where you might sit all the time to watch television or eat meals etc. The expression spring clean, where the whole house was turned upside down once a year, is still a great idea but I do suggest that you also do an autumn clean, because with the colder weather other bugs will find your house an attractive and warm hideout for the winter months.

What can we do to prevent bed bugs in the home?

It is a good idea to keep your bedroom as clutter free as possible. Get the vacuum out regularly even with wood floors and move the bed so that you can suck up all the dust and bugs that might be living in cracks. Make sure that you include soft furnishings such as curtains.

When you wash bed linens do so in a hot wash with a good quality detergent but insure you have an adequate rinse cycle.Then dry on very high heat in the tumble dryer for 40 to 45 minutes.

I try to time the linen change with sunshine and spread out both bottom sheets, duvet covers and pillow cases over the backs of metal chairs (without soft cushioning) in the direct sunlight for an hour.

Before replacing linen I suggest vacuuming the mattress taking care around the seams. It is also good for the life of a mattress to turn over from time to time.

Make sure that you do all the beds in the house at the same time so that you decrease the risk of them travelling throughout the house from one bedroom to the other.

It is at this point that I should mention that those of us who adore our animals and allow them to get on the bed with us from time to time or to sleep on the bed at night are at risk of also inviting their particular companions into bed too. Fleas and mites love a little human snack from time to time and keeping your pet free of them is important for their health and yours. This makes the laundering of bed linen even more important and I also find that the following natural product that I use helps with both bed bugs and other parasites.

I am not keen on chemical based household products unless absolutely necessary. For the last 20 years I have been using Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) an oil made from the crushed seeds of the grapefruit. I use all the time and recommend to others as it has anti-bacterial, and microbe properties and is great for fungal infections internally and externally. Its household uses are as varied including as a water purifier and a natural vegetable and fruit wash.

For a bug spray you need to use a garden spray bottle with a fine nozzle. Mix 20 to 25 drops with water to fill the bottle. Spray the mattress including the seams, soft furnishings including curtains every couple of months – let it dry and remake the bed with the clean linen.

Here are a couple of links to sites with information both on bedbugs and GSE.

You can find a number of brands of Grapefruit Seed Extract on Amazon or in your local health food store.

I hope this has not put you off your breakfast or whichever meal you might be indulging in right now….

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998- 2018

My nutritional background

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse by health books and fiction you can find them here:


10 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Health Column – Time to revisit the #BedBug Infestations! – Unwanted bedmates!

  1. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – Book Launch, Fats Waller, Royalty and #Halloween recipes plus the usual #stars | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

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