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Bed bugs on the eve of summer vacation: A mom’s guide [+video]

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I can tell you that while bites are painless, welts left behind are itchy, but they don’t transmit diseases. Some people are mildly allergic to them. The welts from bed bugs sometimes get written off as mosquito bites.

That was all the bad stuff. Now let’s talk about getting them to bug-off. I was perfectly serious about taking our cues from nursery rhymes and old wives' expressions because those old girls have forgotten more than we even know.

The bed bug, Cimex lectularius, was my childhood nickname given to me by my maternal grandmother, Anne. She called me “My little vance (vants)” which is Yiddish for bed bug. This makes little sense because she was a blonde, blue-eyed, Roman Catholic to the bone. According to her, it was also a Polish expression of endearment. I looked it up and in Polish the word for bed bug is pluskwa.

While she might have been a little off-base on nicknames, I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that Grandma Anneisms had some practical sense when it came to bed bug riddance.

“Some Like it Hot,” was one of my Grandma Anne’s favorite films and it works as an extermination plan for bed bugs because bed bugs hate warmth, according to Scientific American.

However professional heat treatments are costly, between $2,000 and $4,000 per single-family home, according to Scientific American, which also tells us that today’s bed bug has become “pesticide resistant,” while heat remains effective.

The best and thriftiest solution comes from friend Theresa who had them through two moves until she learned to put things in the dryer for 25 minutes and then put the still hot items into a plastic bag in a warm place for a few hours. She actually had bags in her car in the sun for the day and that did the job better than chemical treatments that had repeatedly failed to get the job done.

That means if it can go in the dryer on high for 25 minutes you’re probably going to be able to keep it. If the bed doesn’t fit in there it’s time to call the trash guys for a bulk pickup or rent a dumpster.

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