Hey Mr. Green,
How can I effectively cope with bed bugs in as green a way possible – if that’s even possible, given how difficult they are to treat in the first place. What is most frustrating is that many of my low-impact strategies aren't working because I live in a small studio apartment and my bed is near, well, everything, including all of my reuseable cloth bags, napkins, and towels.
Anyhow, all of these wonderful items which made a low impact are out the window right now due to these critters. Now my life is being lived out of plastic tubs and countless plastic bags until I am declared bug-free and can revert back to my low-impact ways again. Help?
–Victoria in Brooklyn, New York
If anybody still doubts the bed-bug resurgence, they missed the big news about the EPA's Bed Bug Summit, where public-health people and entomologists gathered to strategize about curbing the latest arthropodic vampire menace.
As far as I can tell, no single low-impact method exists to cope with these tormentors. You have to rely on an ensemble of measures to combat the bloodsuckers, whose American renaissance has resulted from their sneaking in on international travelers and luggage, our reluctance to use toxic pesticides, and their growing resistance to any pesticide.
It seems that you’ve already taken some measures to contain them by sealing up objects in which they can hide. They live in any clutter or tiny crack, so the first line of defense is a very thorough cleaning, not just of beds and bedding, but of anything that might be infested. Seal all crevices where they might lurk, down to cracks in the wall. The creatures can't fly, but they do crawl out for their gruesome meals. (University of Kentucky bed-bug authority Michael Potter says they "feed by piercing the skin with an elongated beak through which they withdraw blood. Engorgement takes about three to 10 minutes." And they don't merely pierce and suck, but inject an anticoagulant to facilitate the process.
Go over box springs, beds, and couches, inside and out. They also live inside and under furniture, at the edges of wall-to-wall carpeting, behind headboards, picture frames, mirrors, and switch plates and outlets. They can even take up residence inside electronic equipment.