Bedbugs Being Dealt With By Tough, Heartless Science

Medill DC/ Flickr

Nasty bedbugs are bad news for everyone. Travelers drop them off or pick them up at just about any hotel. The people that run those hotels hate them too. Bedbugs require a great deal of attention just to keep circling your room. But now, some good science has bad news for bedbugs. All bedbugs will die via a safe, non-chemical resource that instantly, physically ends them.

Researchers at Stony Brook University have developed a product that they say, “literally stops bedbugs in their tracks” in a report from Laboratory Equipment.

What they have and how it works is best described as like the workings of a spider web. Once something gets caught … that’s it, party over.

The bedbug experts have developed a web-like product with microfibers 50 times thinner than a human hair. This stuff can catch the smallest of insect, for the most part.

So in come the bedbugs on a little stroll that might have ended on your leg but they (and any other bug that comes along) get entangled and trapped in the web.”The microfibers trap them by attaching to microstructures on their legs taking away their ability to move, which stops them from feeding and reproducing,” says lead researcher Miriam Rafailovich, Distinguished Professor of Materials Science and Engineering.

God, I hope they never turn that stuff on me. Sounds effective. There will be no last personal experience for any of these insects. They will all die the same death.

This new, patent-pending tech is being offered for commercial purposes by Fibertrap, a company that specializes in non-toxic pest control methods. More on this as details are revealed.

Bed Bugs Are Becoming More Resistant to Insecticides

Philadelphia Takes Top Spot For Most Bedbug Infested City

hotel roomTaking an award that no city wants to win, Philadelphia has won the dubious title of most bedbug-infested U.S. city, according to the annual Most Bedbug-Infested Cities ranking, released today by Terminix.

Philadelphia took the top spot from New York City, which held the title for two years. While you’re at it, stay away from Ohio as well, which has three cities – Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland – on the top 15 list.

“Bedbugs continue to increase their presence across the U.S.,” said Stoy Hedges, an entomologist with Terminix. “While major metropolitan areas are most at risk, it is important to note that bedbugs have been spotted in cities and towns across the country.”
The 2012 most bedbug-infested cities include:

1. Philadelphia
2. Cincinnati
3. New York City
4. Chicago
5. Detroit
6. Washington, D.C.
7. Columbus, Ohio
8. San Francisco
9. Denver
10. New Haven, Conn.
11. Dallas
12. Houston
13. Indianapolis
14. Miami
15. Cleveland”Bedbugs can cause itchy welts and rashes, and may go undetected for months in a home or business,” Hedges added. “It is important for consumers to know the signs of an infestation and to have their home inspected by a professional if they suspect a problem.”

As travelers prepare to hit the road this summer, use these tips to slow the spread of bedbugs:

  • Check hotel headboards, mattresses and box springs for bedbugs and dark blood spots.
  • Hang all clothing. Leave nothing lying on the bed or furniture.
  • Avoid storing your clothing in the hotel’s furniture drawers.
  • Store suitcases on a luggage rack as far from the bed as possible.
  • Vacuum suitcases when returning home and immediately wash clothing in hot water.
  • Between trips, store luggage in a sealed plastic bag in a garage or basement, away from bedrooms.
  • If you suspect your hotel has bedbugs, ask for a change of rooms.
  • Bedbugs should only be treated by a trained pest control professional.

The list was created by compiling data from the 300 Terminix branches across the country. The company created the ranking by evaluating service calls from customers, as well as confirmed cases by service professionals.

[Flickr via expensorvic]

SkyMall Monday: Bed Bug Sleeping Cocoon (Poll)

skymall bed bug sleeping cocoonHotel beds are gross. That’s just a fact. Frankly, everything in your hotel room is contaminated with something (including bodily fluids) and not just the hellholes where you expect to find filth. These days, however, more and more people are worried about a particular cleanliness issue in hotels: bedbugs. Not only will bedbugs make your stay miserable, but you very well could ruin your home life if you carry the little biters back with you at the end of your trip. We sleep in a meat locker here at SkyMall Monday headquarters to keep the bloodsuckers at bay. When we travel, however, we live in constant fear of waking up with itchy red marks brought on from letting the bedbugs bite. Thankfully, SkyMall has chosen to nip this problem in the bud and now offers a layer of protection from things that chomp in the night. The next time you’re calling it a day in your hotel room, wrap yourself up in the Bed Bug Sleeping Cocoon.Hotel sheets can be abrasive, so skipping them in favor of your own cocoon isn’t really much of a loss. Frankly, the cocoon might be a better alternative than donning a hazmat suit when you enter your hotel room.

Think that cocoons are only for moths and butterflies? Believe that any hotel worth your money will be bedbug-free? Well, while you soothe your skin in an oatmeal bath, we’ll be reading the product description:

This portable sleeping cocoon is made from a specially woven fabric that is impervious to bed bugs. Its tightly wound polyester threads are only 1-micron apart to prevent 100% of bed bugs from penetrating the fabric. The durable polyester threads are impervious to bed bugs’ teeth yet the fabric remains soft, pliable, and breathable for optimal sleeping comfort in a hotel bed. The hooded top protects your head and neck yet allows you to breathe naturally, and the entire unit fits in the included tote for ease of travel.

Ah yes, polyester: the most breathable fabric on the planet. Who doesn’t wish they could replace their fine Egyptian cotton sheets with some smooth polyester?

Well, what say you, Gadling and SkyMall Monday fans? Would you pack your own Bed Bug Sleeping Cocoon to keep you safe in hotel rooms? Let us know in the poll below and share your thoughts in the comments.
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Check out all of the previous “SkyMall Monday” posts HERE.

EcoSmart Bedbug Killer: A better bedbug repellent

Let’s face it, bedbugs are disgusting. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of staying in a bedbug ridden hostel, you know of what I speak. I woke up in a hill town guest house covered in red welts, the place was crawling with the little monsters, but there was a certain “back country off the grid isn’t this picturesque” aspect to my newly textured skin. There’s no way I’d bring that kind of amusement to an overnight stay at an international chain — or any situation — again. Manhattan topped the list for bedbugs, they’re still a big problem.

There are ways to protect yourself from bedbugs — for starters, don’t stay at the hotel that has the “bedbug infested” box checked on the review sites. There’s nasty chemical stuff you can take with you to fumigate your room upon arrival. It’s not very appealing. In addition to the toxic avenger kind of treatments, there’s also a product called EcoSmart Organic Bedbug Repellent. According to the EcoSmart site:

It kills bugs fast and repels for hours without any synthetic toxins or harmful residues.

Reading the instructions on how to stay bedbug free when traveling made me feel a weird combination of paranoid, obsessive, and grossed out. Also from the EcoSmart site:

Upon entering your hotel room, do NOT put your suitcase on the bed or the floor. Bed bugs can and will jump to your suitcase without your knowledge. Instead, set your luggage on the luggage rack and barricade them from entering by spraying repellent around the legs of the luggage carrier and the perimeter of your suitcase.

Look for bed bugs – or signs of them – in the seams of the mattress. Pull back the bedding and look at the mattress. Check the seams (looks like a ribbon or cord around the perimeter of the mattress). Check in and around any buttons or ribbing. You may not be able to see the bed bugs (they’re the size of an apple seed), but you may see reddish spots (blood smears) or brownish spots (bed bug poop).

Seriously? Ick.

You might to have to give up your sunscreen — or something — to make space for it in your carry-on, but EcoSmart does come in a TSA friendly 2.75 ounce spray bottle. The primary ingredients listed are peppermint and rosemary oil, it smells kind of like toothpaste or mouthwash. It’s pleasant enough, not so strong that it’s irritating when you spray it in your sleeping area. I made my lab assistant take a blind nose full too — the verdict? “Is that Tiger Balm?”

As for if it truly works… I can’t say for sure. My test lab is blissfully free of bedbugs.

Bed bugs in hotels and on cruise ships? What about my backpack?

Bed bugs in hotels and on cruise ships?

The questions come and go for hotel managers, cruise ship cabin stewards, even sporting goods store workers but the bugs themselves, stay behind. It seems that infestations of bed bugs, the hematophagous (bloodsucking) insects of urban legend-quality mania are here to stay. Experts agree, the only thing to do is prevent them from dropping by in the first place.

One scary thought about bed bugs is that they can infect you with a disease they may have picked up from the last person they took a bite out of.No, those people are thinking of a vocal member of whatever political party you don’t care for. In the U.S. that could be Sarah Palin for some or Keith Oberman for others.

An expert on bed bugs (not politics) Richard J Pollack PhD says no way;

“The bites can cause distress, a few people have allergic reactions, and scratching can lead to secondary infection, but bed bugs are not known to transmit infectious diseases to humans,” says Pollack. “You don’t have to worry about who the bed bug fed on earlier. You’re not going to get hepatitis B or C, malaria, or HIV.”

On the contrary, we can often be harmed more by trying to get rid of bed bugs in the first place.

“Many people, whether they think they have bed bugs or truly do, will attempt to apply insecticides in their homes and on their beds. They don’t know what they’re doing, they don’t read the labels, and they can overexpose themselves to something, which, if used properly, would pose minimal risk.” adds Pollack.

Bed bugs in hotels and on cruise ships
These are really icky creatures

Some people think bed bugs are caused by poor hygiene…like people that don’t bathe frequently are more apt to foster an environment good for bed bugs to thrive. Again, not so much says BadBedBugs.com;

“Finding bed bugs in your home has nothing to do with poor hygiene! It takes only one bed bug to hitch a ride on your clothing (furniture, suitcase, etc) and infest your residence. What’s worse is that they can live up to one year without drinking a drop of your blood.”

Others think bed bugs hitch a ride on luggage and wind up anywhere that luggage might go including cruise ships.

I talked to bed bug specialists from Avoid-A-Bug told this week at Cruise Shipping Miami, a week-long trade show where cruise line executives and buyers stop by to sample the wares of vendors looking to get their business. They say bed bugs are not a big problem on cruise lines and that hotels are much worse. Avoid-A-Bug uses bug-sniffing dogs to find them.

“Cost-effectively locating these elusive insects can be a challenge especially in large multi-room structures. Pest control professionals are realizing the time and cost savings of enlisting bed bug sniffing dogs to help conduct preliminary inspections.” said Bill Cowley of Cowleys Termite and Pest Control.

What has more of a bed bug problem than cruise ships and hotels?

Airlines.

British Airways grounded two jumbo jets earlier this month not because of unrest in the world, earthquakes or tsunami’s, because of an infestation of bed bugs so bad that one passenger was badly bitten on two separate occasions reports Time.

BedBugs.com has some tips to protect against bed bugs when flying. You, not the bed bugs. Bed bugs don’t fly. Bed bugs don’t really even run much.

The tips we probably won’t do include calling ahead to the airline and asking “What steps do you take to keep bed bugs out of the passenger areas?” Somehow I can’t imagine myself making that call. They also suggest personally inspecting the area your seat is in for signs of bed bugs. That one might be good on full flights. We’ve sure heard stranger ways to get that upgrade to first class.

That leaves us with backpacks and sporting equipment of all kinds.

Tips for backpackers include water-proofing your tent and keeping it sealed whenever possible, putting your shoes in bed bug-proof bags when not using them and killing any visible bed bugs with alcohol.

Gadling has been seriously (?) covering this topic for quite some time, providing video on how to find and attack them and also an informative video about the top cities for infestations.

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Photos courtesy BuzzKill Pest Control