When I was a kid, the old black and white movies with scary monsters like vampires and mummies were some of my favorites. As I got older, I loved movies (like Young Frankenstein and The Rocky Horror Picture Show) that allowed me to laugh at my fears.
Currently zombies fill the screens of horror flicks. Zombies are scary, but what really frightens me are the thought of real blood-sucking creatures crawling into bed with me at night. I’m afraid of bed bugs and I have never been bitten by one. Yet.
Bed Bug PTSD
I went looking to see if the fear of bed bugs had been given a specific “phobia” name. I didn’t find a phobia for bed bugs in particular. The fear of beds is Clinophobia and the fear of bugs is Entomophobia, but there isn’t a Clino-Entomo-phobia as of yet. Give it time.
I did find that people who have actually had a bout with bed bugs may suffer from an anxiety similar to mine known as “Bed Bug PTSD”. I am not making this up. The Atlantic published an article about bed bug anxiety . Well, OK, they called it “madness” but even I think that is extreme.
Turns out that once you survive an infestation of bed bugs, the expensive and time consuming eradication process can leave you emotionally scarred. I believe it. I’ve never had bed bugs, but I have helped so many people going through the bed bug extermination process that I live in fear of bed bugs.
Bed Bugs are Evil Blood Suckers
EHSO has some pretty good information about bed bugs. In a nutshell, these bugs are small, but are large enough to be seen with the naked eye (unlike microscopic dust mites). They feed on blood. Human blood in general and your blood in particular is their favorite meal. They use two tubes, one to inject an anticoagulant and another to extract your blood. They feed every 5 to 7 days and they are attracted by the carbon dioxide you exhale. I guess you could just never exhale. Let me know how that works for you. The anticoagulant they inject causes a bump and an itching sensation.
The little buggers will hide anywhere, but close to you and your bed is one of their favorite locations. For many years they were considered to be pests of the unclean. But as we travel more and the world gets smaller, bed bugs can be found in the finest homes and hotels and the most modest motel and slums as well. No place is immune.
Now Recognized as a Health Risk
For years bed bugs were considered a disgusting nuisance but not a carrier of disease. People were found to be allergic to the bites, but that didn’t pose any more health risk than allergy to mosquito bites or other insects. However, recent research has shown that bed bugs can be a carrier of Chagas Disease. So fear of bed bugs isn’t completely irrational.
Calm Your Bed Bug Fears
Having confessed to my bed bug fears, here are some things I do to prevent a bed bug infestation from ever happening to me. It has been successful so far, but I am sure as soon as this gets published I will get bed bugs. Like punishment for bragging. So here is my routine:
Bed Bug Covers. My mattress and pillows are all protected in zippered bed bug proof covers. I am highly allergic to dust mites, so I need zippered covers for dust mite protection. I use the AllergyCare Linen bed bug proof and dust mite proof fabric so I literally kill two bird (or is it bugs) with one stone.
Bed Bug Avoidance. Since I don’t have bed bugs in my house, I don’t want to bring them into my house. So, when I travel my suitcase stays in the bathtub at a hotel. I never put luggage on the floor.
When I come home, my suitcase stays in the garage until it can be thoroughly inspected and the clothing goes from the garage into the washing machine before it ever comes in the house. If you want to know in detail what I do to avoid bed bugs when I travel, you can read this related post from 2012. See, I have been afraid of bed bugs for years.
Bed Bugs are Scary
So yes, bed bugs are scary. They don’t fly like vampire bats; but I haven’t read a case of someone picking up a suitcase full of vampire bats by staying in a hotel. I read about bed bugs in stores, but I don’t read about vampire bats in stores. You get the idea.
In reality, bed bugs are to be feared more than vampires. In fiction, bed bug zombies would be the worst!
Til Next Time!