Sleep Tight

February 17, 2012

Rheanna Sand


There are three important things I've learned since moving to the Big Apple:

1. The yellow ones don't stop.
2. New Yorkers aren't as mean as you think they are.
3. Bed bugs are a real problem!

Yes, bed bugs, or "chinches" as they are called in Spanish, are a growing problem in large cities like New York, and not just in slums and gross hoarder houses. Middle- and upper-class homes are just as likely now to be infested, as well as your local five-star hotel. No one is safe!

These apple-seed-sized pests of the species Cimex lectularis have been around for thousands of years, feeding primarily on humans but also on other animals like cats, dogs, guinea pigs, and rodents. Similar to the tick, these blood-feeders have a proboscis that can penetrate the epidermis without being noticed, since they inject a small amount of anesthetic when they bite. Engorged with your blood, they go and hide in your mattress, in your baseboards, in your dresser drawers, or in any other hiding spot that is thinner than the edge of a credit card.

And get this - they know to hide during the day near your bed, but even if they end up in your basement or attic, they can survive for up to a year without food and a year and half without oxygen! So, in other words, if Newt's moon colony becomes a reality, they'd better keep their luggage off the floor.

So what can be done to prevent this awful scourge? We are following one simple rule: no second-hand furniture. Other deterrents would be putting glue boards under the legs of your bed, filling in any cracks or crevices in the walls, super-heating your mattress with a heat gun, and just plain good housekeeping.

It is NOT true that sleeping with the lights on, or spraying yourself with pesticides before bed, can prevent being bitten. But it would prevent any kind of social life and sense of sanity, I'm guessing. I'll just stick to the cleanliness and common sense, thank you very much.



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