by: Dini M. Miller, Ph.D., Department of Entomology, Virginia Tech
Prior to the 1950s, most people had a certain level of bed bug awareness. Whenever they left home, in the back of their minds, they were conscious that they might encounter bed bugs. People modified their behavior to prevent bringing bed bugs back home with them. For example, if a woman went to the theater, she would not just put her handbag and wrap into the seat next to her because she was aware that bed bugs might be there. If someone stayed at a hotel, they would check the room for bed bugs before unpacking their bag. Apartment managers were also bed bug conscious and made new tenants fumigate their belongings (usually in the complex’s own fumigation chamber) before letting them to move in.
Because bed bugs have not been a problem in the United States for close to 50 years, we have lost our bed bug consciousness. If we go to the movies, we throw our purses and jackets into the empty seat next to us. When we ride in a taxi, we set our computer bags on the seat and put our luggage in the trunk. If we go to the laundromat we set our clothes basket on the floor or on the top of the washer. If we stay in a hotel, we throw our suitcases on the extra bed. We don’t think twice about buying a chair at a garage sale or storing our daughter’s furniture in the spare room. However, all these behaviors make us vulnerable to bed bug infestation. This publication is intended to make you
aware of the many ways that bed bug infestations get started in homes and apartments, and to help you protect your home against bed bug invasion.