CBS News reports that back in September, Consumer Correspondent Susan Koeppen asked Bed Bug Central’s Phil Cooper at the Chicago Bed Bug Summit what her chances were — as a frequent traveler — of getting bed bugs.
He replied, “You’re going to bring them home.” And he was right. Koeppen recently picked up bed bugs on a ski trip and brought them to her home.
Watch this report from CBS’s The Early Show:
(If embedded video does not work, view on CBS.com.)
I am always interested in the stories of journalists who get bed bugs. They’re in a unique position to report on the experience. (Here are some earlier examples.)
I think the warning to consumers to beware of “bed bug extermination scams” is a good one.
Besides the pest management professionals who don’t deliver or who offer to treat homes with no bedbugs present, The Early Show should also warn consumers about products which make grandiose claims.
Right now, it seems like manufacturers can pretty much say anything you like about an EPA-exempt product. And consumers are getting burned. (If bill HR 967 passes into law, it may do a lot to solve that problem in the US.)
However, the advice to choose “a certified dog” and an experienced handler does not necessarily correspond to what we’re hearing from others.
Many experts like Michael Potter say that canine handlers should visually confirm all dog alerts. (We include this advice in our FAQ on canine scent detection.)
This news spot and other recent activity suggest that Bed Bug Season 2011 is kicking off.
It’s not that bed bugs don’t breed and bite all year round. However, people seem to be a lot more aware of them in the summer months.
Google Trends shows a fairly solid pattern since 2007 of search traffic for “bed bugs” rising in summer months and falling in the end of the year. In 2010-1011, that pattern also held for news references to bed bugs. Sometimes people panic that more news reports = more bed bugs.
Remember, however, that the amount of attention paid by the media to bed bugs at any given time is not necessarily directly proportionate to the amount of bed bugs active in the world.
While more people do seem to become aware of bed bugs in the warmer months, and they do multiply more rapidly at higher temperatures, it is also true that a seasonal surge in bed bug news stories helps fill those boring summer news months.
It also targets summer travelers as purchasers of products to use in hotel stays or on returning home, and parents of campers and college students who may also carry the pests home.
Sometimes what’s packaged as bed bug news isn’t really news about bed bugs at all.
BASF produced a press release today (picked up today by CNBC, among others) whose title trumpets “La Niña sets scene for insect surge: Termites, bed bugs and ants will be the likely culprits across America.”
However, while the title certainly suggests La Niña will have an impact on bed bug numbers, the article itself admits that while bed bugs are expected to continue spreading, “we can’t blame weather patterns for this one.” (I note that PCT Online also used this article but without the misleading title.)
Make no mistake, bed bugs have been biting and spreading all winter long, even when the news media was busy with other stories.