We have all heard this from our parents, and probably even said it to our own children. When you think about it, quite an unsettling sentiment as you tuck someone into bed. It has been a part of our national vocabulary since World War II when bed bugs were just a fact of life. Since then we have developed pesticides to try and deal with the problem, but these resilient bugs have not given up their quest for our blood.
Traveling at night and hiding in dry, dark spaces like loose wall paper, inside of furniture and even light sockets these little guys stay relatively out of sight until feeding time. When it is time to eat, they follow their favorite scent – the carbon dioxide that we give off with every breath. Once they find us, they grip on to our skin for dear life and slowly rock back and forth inserting their long needlelike feeding organ, a stylet, into our skin. They can feed for up to five minutes undisturbed and can live up to a year between feedings.
Though we have developed pesticides against them, some bed bug populations in major cities such as New York City have developed nerve mutations allowing them to survive our harsh chemical attacks. Although they usually do not travel with humans, they have been known to hitch rides or even set up shop in the clothing of homeless people or others who do not change clothes or wash regularly.
But not to fear, there are effective non-toxic ways of getting rid of these pests. Using a desiccant dust mixed with their own pheromone will attract and simply dry up the bug till it dies.