How to Handle Unwelcome House Guests

That’s some fancy footwork you’ve got there.

You see a bug, and you do a two-step on its torso. A beetle gets the Bossanova and you perform a little do-si-do on any drainflies you might see. But bed bugs? Ugh, they could bow to your corner and you’d never know – until you start to scratch. So what can you do about unwanted visitors this summer? Read Infested by Brooke Borel and House Guests House Pests by Richard Jones and know what’s afoot.

“House Guests House Pests: A Natural History of Animals in the Home” by Richard Jones c.2015, Bloomsbury$28.00 / higher in Canada     288 pages

“House Guests House Pests: A Natural History of Animals in the Home” by Richard Jones
c.2015, Bloomsbury $28.00 / higher in Canada 288 pages

Come on over, you’ve told your friends. Your family knows that the welcome mat is out any time. You’ll open your door aplenty all season long but, unfortunately, that could mean a few visitors that didn’t get invited.

In this, you’re not alone. Says Brooke Borel, the pharaohs in Egypt battled bed bugs; in fact, it seems that the bugs have “shadowed us throughout history.” They’ve adapted to our physiology, too: a bed bug’s mouth is eight micrometers across, while our red blood cells are seven-point-two in diameter. We’ve even helped them out by becoming “an efficient vehicle to spread” the bug around.

“Infested: How the Bed Bug Infiltrated Our Bedrooms and Took Over the World” by Brooke Borel c.2015, University of Chicago Press          $26.00 / higher in Canada       259 pages

“Infested: How the Bed Bug Infiltrated Our Bedrooms and Took Over the World” by Brooke Borel
c.2015, University of Chicago Press $26.00 / higher in Canada 259 pages

The same, says Richard Jones, happened with fleas because our ancestors “returned, night after night, to sleep in the same shelter.” That gave fleas a reason for “a human-based flea community” we could share with other hearths. Ick.

Overall, the reason we have little visitors we don’t want is because our homes offer four things: shelter, warmth, food, and protection from the pest’s natural enemies. This goes for six- and eight-legged nasties, as well as those of the four-legged variety. (No word on the two-legged pests. That’s probably another book…)

So what can you do about such unpleasant company? Says Borel, it’s tempting to use “whatever means possible” against bedbugs but move cautiously and remember that bed bugs are disgusting but no “experiments over the past century [have] successfully linked bed bugs to illness…” Jones advises to “Identify the visitor;” keep things clean; use barrier methods, natural repellants or man-made traps; and if all else fails, “make a decision about whether it is acceptable or not to share your home…”

“We do love nature,” he says, “and we do want to see it up close, but not that close.”

Are you squirming yet? Scratching your neck, or the back of your arm? You will be, once you’re done reading House Guests House Pests and Infested.

Thanks to an investigator’s mien (Borel) and mean curiosity (Jones), there’s plenty to learn about varmints in these two books, including where they could have possibly come from and how to get them to go. Both authors touch upon natural methods of ridding your home of pests (and the lack thereof, in Borel’s case), and both books include a handy appendix or guide to answer any quick, (and, quite possibly, panicky) questions you might have.

Beetles and bed bugs and flies! Oh, my! Whether you’re a homeowner or an apartment dweller you need House Guests House Pests and Infested. Get ‘em now. And step on it.