By Abby Gross
Have you ever wondered why someone told you not to let the bedbugs bite? For most of the last fifty years, bedbugs were very rare in North America — but they’re back.
The bedbug is a very old insect. In fact, bedbugs have been around since the time when humans were living in caves. Despite their name, bedbugs don’t always live in beds. They like beds because of the cozy crevices inside, but they also live behind picture frames, in wall cracks, furniture and in other dark places.
Adult bedbugs are about the size of apple seeds, and they are nocturnal, which means they sleep during the day and are awake at night. Since they don’t have wings, they crawl; and for food, they suck human blood. Luckily, bedbug bites don’t hurt — they just get a little itchy like mosquito bites.
In the 1940s and 1950s, scientists developed a pesticide* called DDT, which helped to destroy most bedbugs in North America. Later, people discovered that DDT is dangerous to humans, and they stopped using it. Due to the banning of DDT and the fact that people travel farther and more often, bedbugs have returned, especially to New York.
City leaders are now trying to stop the spread of bedbugs because these creatures are considered a major problem. Councilwoman Gail Brewer is hoping to pass a law that will make sure old and new mattresses are kept separate.
If you think you might have bedbugs in your home, tell an adult.
*Pesticide: Any chemical used for preventing, destroying or repelling a pest.