Pests, Panic and the Media

A few weeks ago, I posted a blog about the effects of the bed bug epidemic on people who don’t actually have a bed bug infestation. From my own personal experience and through some online research, I found that panic and paranoia were common side effects of the recent surge in bed bug reports.

I included a survey in my post to find out if my readers had similar experiences. According to the results, 40 percent of survey takers said they experienced bed bug panic without the bed bugs and 60 percent said they haven’t experienced any panic at all.

One thing that caught my interest from the survey results was that 60 percent of survey takers believed that the media are making the bed bug infestations seem worse or more prevalent than they are.

The Washington Post addressed this issue a couple years ago with an article titled “Hmm. Tiny, Evil – Everywhere?” It states that scarier than bed bugs are the rapidly multiplying, unstoppable bed bug newspaper stories.

A more recent article on recognizes that there is media hype over bed bugs. The author writes, “…the public has been responding to bedbugs media hype with hysteria. Pest management professionals are being called by people convinced they have an infestation, but don’t.”

I also asked readers to share their experiences about mistaking other kinds of bugs for bed bugs. One survey taker wrote, “Actually, I have no idea what bed bugs look like.” While several other people stated that they did in fact mistake other types of small insects for bed bugs.

So even though the media may be creating bed bug hype, many people aren’t even sure what a bed bug looks like.

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