Cheap political jokes aside, the nation’s capital, like many other cities, has become infested with blood-sucking insects, and bed bugs in Washington, D.C., have become very common. The City of Magnificent Intentions (as Charles Dickens called it) ranks somewhere around ten in the list of most infested cities in the United States, and as high as sixth in some reports. Ironically, the flat, wingless insects are even lurking in the records office of the city’s Department of Health.
The bed bug phenomenon is highly visible in Washington, the home of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), and the progression of colonization gives lessons for other metropolises that might be expecting an insect invasion in the near future.
Hotels were colonized first, giving some indirect support to the idea that the bugs were brought from abroad by international travelers. Apartment buildings followed, while homeless shelters were third. In 2012, bed bugs started showing up in the last area that had been free of them until then – detached single family homes in the suburbs.
Though this is nothing more than a practical insect adaptation to their physical structure and the way they grow, it’s also a boon to the residents, businesses and travelers alike. As the administrative center of the United States, it’s only natural that Washington’s official bed bug response would be stronger than those in more commercial cities. In fact, to deal with the sudden upsurge of bed bug activity in America, the metropolis has hosts the annual National Bed Bug Summit in the capital twice, in 2009 and 2011.
There are even representatives from the Department of Defense at the Summit, though these people are obviously mostly concerned with controlling bed bugs on Army bases rather than unleashing cruise missiles on the tiny invaders! Though this might sound tempting to someone struggling against a full complement of bed bugs, effective help is available from the D.C. Department of Health, Health Regulation and Licensing Administration, Bureau of Community Hygiene, which operates the 311 number for hotline reports of bed bugs in Washington, D.C.
If you live in the nation’s capital and think that bed bugs may be lurking in its nooks and crannies, the first task to determine if these six-legged villains are indeed present. While bed bugs are hard to spot however, the life cycle of the bugs provides one of the visible clues that can help people locate an infestation in their homes – in the form of shed skins of the bugs. Young bed bugs, known as “nymphs” shed their skin regularly after each blood meal in order to get bigger. This happens about five to six times from egg to adulthood. So look out for the signs of shed bed bug skins, egg shells or any signs of live or dead bed bugs along the seams and crevices of the mattress and baseboards. It is also recommended that one should look for dried blood stains on the sheets, mattresses and any upholstered furniture near the space where one sleep. If you have a pet in the house, it is also recommended to check on the pillow or areas where your pet sleeps.
In the case of a serious infestation, signs of the bugs can also be found behind peeling wallpapers, wall mounted items as well as in smoke detectors. There will also be the characteristic odor of bed bugs which smell like rotten raspberries, almonds, or cilantro.
If you do detect the telltale signs of bed bugs, your next steps should be to report the infestation by calling the D.C. Department of Health number at 311, then start making plans to bring in an exterminator to wipe out your unwanted insect tenants. The Department can recommend licensed exterminators who can handle bed bugs in Washington, D.C., plus educational resources that can give you the knowledge you to combat the bugs yourself and help prevent re-infestation.
Travelers who are traveling into Washington, D.C are advised to brush up on bed bugs prevention tips. To enjoy a bed bug free trip in the city, follow the recommended tips:
- Upon check-in, thoroughly inspect the entire room before unpacking, particularly under the bed sheets, seams of the mattress and behind the headboard.
- Set your luggage away from the bed and use zip-lock bags to store your items, souvenirs and clothes.
- If you spot anything suspicious, immediately inform the hotel management and request for a change of rooms. Make sure your new room is not directly adjacent to the possibly infested room.
- After your trip, bring the luggage into the bathroom to unpack and inspect your suitcase thoroughly. Wash all of your clothes – including those that have yet to be worn – in hot water. For extra protection, use a professional grade steamer to steam the luggage, which will kill any hiding bed bugs or their eggs.
Bed Bugs Spotted In Library Books At University Of Washington
Quick Bed Bug Resources For Residents In Washington D.C
- D-I-Y and commerical solutions to treat and protect yourself against bed bugs: http://www.getridofbedbugsathome.com/bed-bug-supply
- Washington, D.C. Bed bug hotline: 311
- Qualified bed bug extermination services: http://www.getridofbedbugsathome.com/exterminator-free-quote/
- Helpful advice: http://doh.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/doh/publication/attachments/bed-bugs-bro_0.pdf