October 03, 2012 - While Don ponders Life's great mysteries he didn't write a column this week. So, while he gets in-touch with his inner grouch, here one from the archives, October 2010. And, hey whatever happened to the bedbug problem?
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For a while now I've been reading about the increase of "undesirables" in the states south of us. And, since it really didn't pertain to us in Michigan, I figured, "what the heck, it's their problem."
But the more I read of the invasion of these darker, reddish-brown skinned unwanteds, the more I thought we needed to beef up protection of our southern border. I wanted all vehicles inspected. I wanted all people and pets crossing the border, north, checked to make sure they were not harboring these undesirables. Alas, they were only thoughts; I didn't share them.
Now it is too late. They are already here. Even in Michigan bedbugs are back. (What? Did you think I was talking about illegal aliens. No, I wanted the border between Michigan and Ohio put on high-alert. And, as far as I am concerned, I blame Ohio for our current bedbug problems.)
Last month, the Detroit Free Press reported "around the metro area, bedbugs are biting . . . calls for help rise 180 percent over a year."
Hot damn, and pass the DDT, please.
Have you seen a picture of a bedbug? They are disgusting little blood suckers and they give me the heebie-jeebies -- which by the way, is an American slang term coined by comic-strip cartoonist W. DeBeck around 1905, meaning a condition of extreme nervousness caused by fear, worry or strain. Thought you might like to know that.
Whilst I have never had an experience to meet a bedbug, I still rank them right up the "Gives Don the Willies" list with headlice (Bailey Lake Elementary outbreak of 1972) and Rahm Emannual (his eyes ook me out). Yep, like most folks, to me bedbugs were something I heard about when as a kid, and is what I say to my kids at bedtime, "Sleep tight. Don't let the bedbugs bite -- and if they do, bite 'em back."
Let me quote the Freep article: "A bedbug outbreak this month (August) at the Riverfront apartments in Detroit and a federal conference Wednesday (August 18) on bedbug problems in the state of Ohio are symptom of something bigger -- a worsening nationwide bedbug explosion . . . bedbug calls rose 180 percent in Metro Detroit . . . officials in Ohio, dubbed the nation's worst bedbug state (see I told you it was their fault) . . ."
Get this -- in three months, an infestation of two adult bedbugs can grow into an infestation of 302 bedbugs. And, by exercising some multiplication skills (or finger dexterity on the calculator) in another three months that infestation would explode to 45,300 bedbugs. And in another three months -- 6,908,250 of apple seed-sized blood suckers could be scurrying over you while you sleep.
Is there something crawling up my back?
The State of Michigan has a 118-page pamphlet about the bedbug, which you can read and or download on-line. here are some more fun facts about your friendly Cimex lectularius -- the bedbug.
1. Bedbugs are thought to have evolved from cave-dwelling insects in the Middle East that fed on bats and eventually started feeding on humans instead (great). Human bedbugs were noted in Greek and Latin literature. The the insects rapidly spread throughout Europe with human populations.
2. They have piercing-sucking mouthparts to feed.
3. Bedbugs go through five nymphal (immature) stages after hatching from the egg and before molting one final time to an adult. They require at least one blood meal at each stage.
4. Adults may live for more than a year!
5. Females must mate to lay eggs. Mated females lay eggs singly, cementing them to surfaces in crevices and protected areas away from but near a host sleeping area. (So they not only suck your blood while you sleep they are doing the horizontal bop, too. That is just so wrong.)
6. They feed for 3-15 minutes and then leave the host. It is rare to actually find bed bugs feeding. Once in their protected hiding spots, the blood meal is digested. During this process, they will defecate, leaving reddish brown spots that are characteristic of bed bug infestations.
7. They have a wide humidity tolerance range but tolerate dry climates better than humid, and have been known to survive without blood meals for up to a year
8. At present, because of the stealthy habits of the bugs and their remarkable abilities to tolerate environmental fluctuations and host availability, it can be difficult to eradicate them once established. (Simply wonderful.)
Don't know about you, but I'm starting to feel itchy.
And, damn Ohio, damn their bedbugs, too!
Don is Assistant Publisher for Sherman Publications, Inc. He has worked for the company since 1985. He has won numerous awards for column, editorial and feature writing as well as for photography. He has two, sons Shamus and Sean and resides in the area. To read archived copies of his columns, click on his name, just under his picture up top . . . He can be e-mailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org