Bed bugs are crawling all over the country, and people are responding with a lot of squeamishness and a lot of scratching. They’re also keeping exterminators awfully busy. But why the recent infestation explosion?
Gangloff-Kauffman says no one’s quite sure. “But one thing’s that’s changed in the past ten years is the way we control things like cockroaches and ants. We tend to use baits instead of sprays for them, and we’ve lost a few of the chemicals that we would have used against those pests, and that may have given bedbugs a window to catch hold of our cities.”
DDT, the deadly chemical people suddenly seem nostalgic about, was banned in 1973, long before the current outbreak.
“It’s like an automatic fear,” said one woman. “Anything that flies, crawls, creeps, I don’t like.”
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Entomophobic is the word for being afraid of insects, and there’s probably nothing that freaks people out more than being attacked in their beds.
“If I hear somebody has bedbugs, a bedbug, lice, I start scratching my head,” said one woman (who prefers to remain nameless). She started scratching when she discovered that her neighbor two doors down the hall had bedbugs . . . scads of them.
Most Infested Cities:
1. New York
10. Los Angeles