Bedbugs Are Bugging Sleepers

By: Damon Dillman
By: Damon Dillman

We've all heard the old saying, "Sleep tight. Don't let the bedbugs bite." But it seems more people are finding out the hard way.

Experts say infestations of the creatures have been reported in more than half the 50 states, including Virginia. That means bedbugs are more common than you may think.

"Wherever you have people you're going to have bedbugs," said Dr. Steven Keffer, associate professor of biology at James Madison University.

"So you're going to find them in people's dwellings. They'll be behind the wallpaper. They'll be behind the floorboards. Basically, inaccessible places that we can't get to."

The tiny bugs are nocturnal, so most people don't know they're being bitten by a bedbug.

"They're very, almost delicate and gentle about it," said Keffer. "You don't know that they're on your body, until the next morning when you wake up and where they fed, you'll have a raised welt."

The stigma that the bugs are only present in dirty homes and hotels is also untrue.

"But when people really start looking, you can find them in palatial mansions as well as the cheap hotel," said Keffer.

"So they really don't honor socio-economic status."

Keffer added that bedbugs usually don't damage furniture or bother pets, although they do also feed on poultry.

Still, they have not been a big problem in the Shenandoah Valley. Steve Beeman, operations manager for the Orkin branch in Harrisonburg, says he's dealt with less than 10 cases of bedbugs in the last 15 years.

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