The nationwide bedbug scare has infested a lot more than beds. Frightened consumers have their heads filled with horror stories about entire families evacuated while their home is fumigated, clothing retailers and movie theaters — even government offices — shut down for treatments, and vacation websites talking about contaminated hotels.
The problem comes at an interesting time in the development of the American wellness consumer. Those with families or pets, or chemical sensitivities, have become more concerned over the use of pesticides and harsh chemicals; many now buy green household cleaners. The Natural Marketing Institute recently found that the natural/organic general merchandise category grew by 15% last year — the only segment of the six measured that recorded double-digit growth.
So how can such folks naturally handle these blood-sucking home invaders? Conventional bedbug treatments can pose a particular problem, and a number of bedbug experts and websites devoted to natural living have taken up the cause.
One site, Natural-Cures-For.com lists black walnut leaf tea, herbs like lavender, tea tree or eucalyptus, and food-grade diatomaceous earth as potential treatments. GrandmasHomeRemedies.com suggests insecticides comprised of natural organic compounds called pyrethrins, canola oil, steam treatments or dry heat.
Even Orkin, the national pest control service, offers advice on organic cures: “The oil of the aromatic cedar wood is sometimes placed around a bed to prevent bedbugs,” the site stated, though it went on to note that a professional consultation is often the best choice.
For itchy bedbug bites, retailers might want to have their in-store pharmacists ready for consultations and counseling.
The federal government is expected to release updated guidelines for eradicating bedbugs. Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency hosted a bedbug summit, and is now heading up a task force that includes other federal agencies with a stake in the matter, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Agriculture — even the Defense Department.