Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite!

Cimex lectularius. Good night, sleep tight,
Don’t let the bedbugs bite.
And if they do
Then take your shoe
And knock ‘em ‘til
They’re black and blue!


This little rhyme from an earlier day may once again become popular. Or would that be unpopular? After having been inactive in the United States for over a half century, bedbugs started a resurgence about ten years ago. Today, they are being found nearly everywhere.

Most persons too young to have personal experience with bedbugs can imagine from the rhyme what type of nuisance it refers to. The origin of "sleep tight" is less obvious. In the days before box springs, ropes were often arranged in a crosshatch pattern tied across the bed frame to form the foundation for a mattress. A special tool was used to tighten bolts along the side of the bed the ropes were anchored to so that when they sagged, they could be made tight again.* Thus, "sleep tight." This process and placing the bedposts in plates filled with water or kerosene to keep the nocturnally feeding bedbugs from creeping up and down were standard operating procedures for many generations. When you think about it, anything that would cause you to sleep over four containers of kerosene has to be pretty serious.

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Bedbugs are about the size and shape of an apple seed and are reddish-brown in color. Like fleas, they feed on blood - human blood - and move about the house at will. They are a specialized parasite, but unlike other similar pests such as lice - which usually die within 24 hours of being separated from their human hosts - bedbugs can last for long periods on their own. They can feed on the blood of any mammal, unfortunately even Spike or Mittens.

As the resurgence has grown from the hospitality industry to multi-family residential dwellings to hotels, assisted living centers, movie theaters, single-family homes and now the office workplace, the word "prolific" comes to mind. What was a problem a few years ago mostly in a few major cities is now a problem everywhere.

Earlier this year, BOMA, the Building Owners and Managers Association International, found that one in 10 survey respondents among members had reported some type of bedbug incident. Because people do not normally sleep in office buildings - at least when the CEO is in - that says something about how quickly this has become a major issue.

To combat this pest, PUR-O-ZONE provides Claire Lice Killer as a tool in your arsenal. Used with a good vacuuming, crevice caulking and de-cluttering program, you can get a handle on this epidemic. (Parasites are included with microorganisms when it comes to how their spread is classified.)

Following label directions carefully, Claire Lice Killer can be used on inanimate, non-food surfaces. It is designed to kill not only bedbugs but adult lice, lice nymphs as they hatch, dust mites, ticks and fleas. Bedbugs are travelers, which is evidenced by how fast this resurgence has spread from point to point, now covering most of the United States by hitching rides on people, luggage and boxed materials being shipped.

Where to Look

Search around beds, under mattresses, in carpet, un-sealed crevices along baseboards, in closets, under boxes and just about anywhere you might expect a bug to go. Use Lice Killer as a spot treatment, not an area spray. Operators should keep the area ventilated and avoid excessive exposure to spray inhalation. Plan ahead to perform the task efficiently and quickly, working your way from the farthest areas to be treated to the door, then exit. PUR-O-ZONE recommends airing the room for 30 minutes or more before re-use. In assisted living facilities, some residents may be more sensitive to residual odors than others, so extend ventilation in those cases.

More Things to Do

Other PUR-O-ZONE recommendations include:

  • Vacuum the area and carpets thoroughly with a HEPA system and as needed, a crevice tool and upholstery brush tool, concentrating on the bed furnishings and surrounding areas. Like most of us, bedbugs want to stay relatively close to their next meal.
  • Get assistance when treating bedrooms so that mattresses and box springs can be moved or turned and treated without operators staying in the room for long periods, or anyone doing excessive lifting.
  • Launder all possible items where bedbugs may reside. Launder at least weekly, or daily while an infestation is being curbed.
  • Start out with a treatment of Claire Lice Killer a day for three days. Note how the infestation is affected. If it is abating or appears under control, drop back to weekly treatment for three more weeks.
  • Remember to treat all areas in a zone. Otherwise, bugs may tend to regain a foothold - no pun intended - from untreated areas and return.
  • In healthcare and assisted living facilities, take seriously patient reports of bugs and bites. Check patients who may not be able to report bites for small to moderate red sites that may look something like a mosquito bite. For persons who are not outside much, it may not be mosquitoes that are biting. To a person unable to move freely or communicate discomfort, an undiscovered infestation could be extremely uncomfortable.
  • In workplace environments, treat areas around where people sit or congregate. Perform these treatments after the main shift to reduce work interruption. Because bedbugs are mainly nocturnal, workplace infestations will be lighter than those in facilities with bedding and persons sleeping nightly. They can feed at any time, however, and may be brought in on clothes of workers with a home infestation. Luggage and computer bags are other transportation mechanisms.
  • Spot treat cracks and crevices on mattresses and around beds. (For other types of parasite infestations, different techniques are recommended on the label.) 
  • Do not spray on or around toys that children might put in their mouths. Remove toys first from areas to be treated in care centers, then replace after treatment is completed. If they cannot be removed easily, bag them in trash liners before application.
  • Do not spray on or around foodstuffs or surfaces edibles or potable water could reasonably be expected to contact.
  • Read the label carefully and consult the MSDS, which can be linked to from our MSDS page.
  • Above all, keep your sense of humor - you may be in for a fight. Like lice and fleas, bedbugs are persistent and hard to defeat without some applied effort. Catching an infestation early can help, so keep a sharp eye, even if you have not had an outbreak before.

Lice Killer is an effective and safe product used as directed, and as with all products that are pesticides, good common sense should be used in application. A good plan for and execution of the use of Claire Lice Killer may help you avoid the expense of professional pest control application. Once the infestation is under control, periodic application may be required to avoid re-infestation.

One good bit of news, although some persons may be or become allergic to the bedbug bite, they are not known to carry any infections transmissible to humans. Small consolation to someone who hasn't slept well in a week.

*To see an actual bed tightener tool, visit the Steamboat Arabia exhibit in downtown Kansas City, Mo., where a unique, interesting and almost pristine set of these mostly forgotten objects were recovered from a shipment destined for some hardware store up river in the 1850s. The cargo had been buried onboard the sunken Arabia in the former Missouri River bed for well over a century before being rediscovered and excavated. The channel had long since moved and the wreck was recovered from farmland by a group of friends and family members.