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by Wendy Stackhouse · June 13, 2014

Bed Bug Advice from 1850

Cover Page of Miss Leslie's Lady's Housebook

Bed bugs have been around for centuries--maybe forever. Some say that they evolved from their cousins the Bat Bugs and became human parasites when people shared caves with bats. That's a long time ago!

And, of course, ever since there have been bed bugs, there have been bed bug remedies, some better than others. And apparently some more dangerous than others, too, just like today.

At Alliance, we believe in the efficacy of heat treatment to kill bed bugs. We know that it kills bed bugs at every stage of development--eggs, nymphs and breeding adults--and that it can reach into cracks and crevices no pesticide can claim. And since it is chemical-free, heat treatment leaves no pesticide residue, no need to wash everything or bag up the food in the cupboards or even move all of your personal belongings (which may be harboring bugs to re-infest) out so that they don't get ruined. Heat works in one treatment over several hours, without residents needing to stay elsewhere until pesticides can dissipate and it is safe to go home again. But people haven't always been so lucky.

We didn't have a problem with bed bugs in the days since DDT came along and before it was banned because of the environmental damage it caused. Remember when Bald Eagles almost died out? That was from DDT. And the California Condors, too. But before DDT--and before heat--bed bugs were a problem that required some pretty drastic solutions, if they worked at all. Here's a page from Miss Leslie's Lady's Housebook published in 1850:

Miss Leslie's bed bug remedies

So first they tried painting them over. No way that worked forever. Then water that had had tobacco steeped in it like tea or red pepper juice or broth. If that didn't work, Quicksilver beaten with an egg! Quicksilver is Mercury--and poisonous!

At Alliance we are very glad that there is an alternative to chemicals that are poisonous to humans as well as bed bugs. If you have a problem with bed bugs anywhere in California, before breaking that old thermometer, give us a call!

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