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Bedbugged! is a weekly column by journalist and bed bug survivor Theresa Braine. For more, click here.
Summer’s a’coming and with it higher temperatures and prime bed bug reproduction weather, some experts say.
To wit: Eggs hatch in seven to 14 days in the cold, but six to 10 days during warmer times of year, M&M Environmental director Timothy Wong told ABC News earlier this year. This speedier reproduction cycle combined with increased summertime travel--spreading hitchiking bugs from one place to another--could translate into an uptick in the number of infestations.
Wong told me recently that he's been seeing cases escalate in Brooklyn, lower Manhattan, and “lots of those new trendy neighborhoods." Other hotspots include the Upper East Side and the Upper West side, up near Columbia University.
They are mostly in apartments, though M&M also gets several calls a month from offices, he said.
Wong pointed out in the ABC News interview that once bed bugs spread through buildings, you are more likely to get a case of bed bugs from a neighbor than from going to a movie. In other words, it just takes one person’s movie to introduce the critters into a building. (For more info on intra-building transmission, see this post on How Bed Bugs Spread Through Apartment Buildings.)
So what can you do?
Interestingly, getting soused might help a bit, and not for the reason you might think. A recent study at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln found that bed bugs feeding on alcohol-laden blood ratchet down the egg laying, which could lead to fewer bites, the website Life’s Little Mysteries reported recently.
However, such limitations would not necessarily curb an infestation. It’s just more evidence that, no matter what is going on in humans’ world, bed bugs are chugging along, and the speed hardly matters. Eggs are eggs, and even with fewer of them, 95 percent still hatch.
“If the bed bugs are still producing, they can cause an infestation. Twelve hatchlings are an infestation right there, and they could increase to a major infestation in about two or four weeks time,” PCO Barry Pollack of Metro Bed Bug Dogs told the New York Daily News. “My business increases by 30% when the thermometer hits 80 degrees.”
You could also choose to avoid visiting Philadelphia this summer, which just rose to the top of the list of most bedbugged cities in the U.S. Indiana arrived on the list for the first time, though it is still below number three New York, according to a ranking by Terminix. Cincinnati is at number two, with Columbus and Cleveland joining it on the top 15 most bedbugged cities. State-wise, Ohio seems to be the most bedbugged.
Of course, the above factors do not change the basics, which is that vigilance and regular inspection are important all year round, both at home and while traveling (hotel inspections are particularly important).
And once your place is infested, you are not going to care what season it is.
Theresa Braine is a NYC-based journalist and bed bug survivor whose work has appeared in the NY Daily News, People, Newsday and other outlets. Bedbugged! is her weekly column about life in the trenches and climbing out with your sanity intact.