Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010

The Reign of the Bedbugs

"Bedbugs Take Over America!" could have been the defining wildlife headline of 2010. Bedbugs — as well as bedbug horror stories — seemed to be everywhere this summer, from New York to Ohio, from Abercrombie outlets to the United Nations Headquarters. Daily updates of infestations across the country became commonplace during the summer of 2010, all leading up to the first-ever bedbug summit in Chicago, where experts convened to discuss the invasion.

The insects, once contained by the chemical DDT (now a banned substance), are now being attacked using a variety of modern methods — from bedbug-sniffing dogs to a wide array of treatments that involve both extreme heat and cold. So far, though, nothing seems to be fool-proof, which makes it easy to see why the critters captured the nation's fear — the tiny bugs are not only tricky to get rid of, but an infestation is all but impossible to prevent. A few tiny bugs clinging to a single sweater — picked up from a hotel room or a movie theater seat — can lead to an infestation of not just your bed, but your sofa, your closet, your carpets — everything. What was once a carefree childhood rhyme — "sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite" — has become a national mantra.