The Bedbug is an animal, a type of arthropod, (the largest phylum of animal life), it is an insect, of the order Heteroptera (the so-called 'true bugs') a member of the family Cimicidae, and sometimes goes by the name of Cimex lectularius. We (that is human beings) and the bedbug, by reason of evolution, are different species of animal inextricably linked. Wherever humans have lived (cave or city, hotel or mansion, tenement flat or luxury high-rise) the bedbug has found us to be a perfect host for a nighttime meal of our blood. The insect is drawn to us at night, at our most vulnerable time of day, because we are warm and exhale the vapor of carbon dioxide while we are asleep. Bedbugs are industrious opportunists. One egg laying capable Cimex lectularius hitchhiking along with a potentially new dinner companion, may quickly establish a colony of young ones, who by nature, eat as a family on the offer of human being dished up nightly. A well-fed bedbug will skip ten days between meals. The bite appears as an ordinary small insect bite, not easily able to be definitely linked to bedbugs, without extrinsic evidence such as bedbug molts, actual captured insects and other telltales. Pest eradicators determine the presence of bedbugs mostly from observation of its barely visible waste. An allergic person may have such a severe reaction to the insect bites that will leave the need to detect other proof as a besides the point exercise. A notorious case of a very bad reaction to bedbugs where the victims were guests in a motel lead to a lawsuit that has helped shape the modern view of how to measure punitive damages. That case also illustrates the jeopardy of not going for the professional extermination once one knows there are bedbugs in the building. The harshest reality for our tenants and landlords today, is that there is no guarantee that extermination will do the job. Tenants must put their home on hold while waiting out a bedbug life cycle to learn if the insect and its progeny are gone from the home. And because the bedbug is very good at lying dormant, each tenant pins the hope for insect-free living on the skill of the exterminator, the willingness of the landlord to see the eradication through and the cooperation of neighbors. As we are now all too aware, that will not prevent a hitchhiking bedbug to come back again to your home or to a neighbor's. Living in an apartment in a near-permanent state of packed-up is disheartening. (C) Steven W. Smollens 2007, 2010.
Landlord / Tenant Lawyer