There are plenty of bed bugs in Houston, Texas these days, as the apple-seed sized insects advance in swarms across the U.S.. Due to increased international travel, greater movement of people, and perhaps given a reproductive boost by the increasing warmth of the climate, these tiny, six-legged muggers are now discovered lurking in homes and other places where people are frequently found across the Space City. The huge size of the metropolis makes it a vast blood bank for these “vampire” bugs.
Bed bugs continue to be a problem across the country, with Houston on the top 15 most bed bug infested cities in 2014, according to a report from Terminix.
Hospital and emergency room visits for bed bug bites, are on the rise, as reported by Houston area doctors who never saw this ailment before 2009, and the insects are certainly likely to stay for many years to come.
Some people believe that keeping their homes spotlessly clean will keep them safe from bed bugs. Keeping your home clean makes it much more pleasant, and will indeed help with other vermin such as cockroaches, so it is well worth doing anyway. However, it will do absolutely nothing to shield you from bed bugs, which care nothing for either dirt or cleanliness.
On a federal scale, the EPA has issued bed bug warnings, organizes yearly “Bed Bug Summits”, and provides information on dealing with this species of pest. The rise of bed bugs in Houston was answered mostly by private action. “Resistance” to the insects is not really coordinated and is left for homeowners and landlords to sort out largely on their own.
One organization that has taken a more proactive stance is the Houston Apartment Association, or HAA. This association has a page of bed bug news and resources, including recommended pest control specialists in the Houston area. For building owners and landlords, the HAA also sponsors “Bedbug Breakfasts” where guests can eat while listening to extermination tips from visiting entomologists, how to set up leases to take account of bed bugs.
If you suspect that bed bugs are in your home, you should not panic, and in particular don’t start throwing away mattress and furniture unless you’re absolute sure that these insects are the problem. Here are some details on how to check on the bed bug situation in your home, and what to do about it:
- Bed bugs are nocturnal creatures, and are therefore difficult to spot them if you are not particularly looking for them. Nevertheless, these bugs prefer locations where they can hide easily and feed regularly on their host, like in your mattresses, upholstered furniture, under the carpets or behind peeling wallpaper. With a torchlight, physically inspect these places and look out for any tiny white or brown-colored bugs that turns up in these locations.
- Other than looking for the bugs themselves, you will also want to check the bedding and bed linens for any tiny dried blood stains and dark red or brown fecal spots. Similarly, keep a look out for any bug exoskeletons or shell skins.
- The first tell-tale warning sign that these bugs are in your home would be the rows and clusters of bites that appear on the skin after waking up in the morning. In the case of a heavy infestation, you can also detect a distinctive over-ripe raspberries smell in the room.
- If you see proof of bed bugs in your room or home; for tenants, the main recourse is to contact your landlord to get some action taken on the problem. If someone obstructs your efforts to get rid of bed bugs, you can complain to the city at 311. Homeowners should call your local pest exterminator immediately.
- For DIYers, please read this post on how to get rid of bed bugs.
- Individuals planning to travel to Houston for holidays or business are advised to take extra precautions by carefully inspecting a room for any signs of the bugs. Bed bugs are gifted hitchhikers and nothing can be worse than returning home with some unwanted souvenirs in your baggage. Click here for a guide on bed bug prevention during your travels.
Quick Bed Bug Resources For Residents In Houston
- Bed bug supplies for prevention and elimination: http://www.getridofbedbugsathome.com/bed-bug-supply
- Compliance complaint number: 311
- Houston Apartment Association (HAA): http://www.haaonline.org/Display.aspx?id=885&terms=bed%20bugs