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Bed Bug Bed Protector Prototype
by Brent Herbert
14 Dec 2006
A prototype for a bed bug free bed, and a micro-business opportunity.
Bed Bug Bed Protector
I have recently posted some stories on the emerging plague of pesticide resistant bed bugs and on my own battle with an invasion of bed bugs.
I have been struggling to isolate my bed, and I have found that mosquito netting is inadequate protection from bed bugs, since bed bug nymphs, when they hatch from eggs, are so small at this stage of growth that they are invisible to the naked eye, and therefore can slip through mosquito netting. As well, bed bugs have a kind of homing radar that targets human beings, and also a means of detecting when humans are in the deepest stage of REM sleep, which is when they prefer to strike. They are extremely persistent creatures, and they have adapted to the strategy of isolating a bed, by climbing walls, walking over the roof, and then when they are directly over head their host, they release their grip and parachute down onto the bed. No bed bug defense strategy is complete therefore without protecting oneself from these attacks from above, for when a bed bug finds the bed posts are blockaded it will launch an attack from the roof.<BR><BR>
Since mosquito netting is inadequate as a form of protection I have been sleeping peacefully and bed bug free in my tent which I have pitched on the living room floor. The tent has ‘no-see-um- netting' on the roof, which is then covered with a tarp to allow ventilation and since even no-see- um netting has a mesh size that is visible to the naked eye, it was necessary for me to block off the roof of my tent before I could take refuse from those bed bugs in my tent and get some sleep without being bitten by bed bugs. This strategy worked and it then occurred to me that the finest netting has a mesh that is like the no-see-um netting on my tent, which is inadequate as a barrier to the smaller stages of bed bugs, and I then became sunk into despair that I would ever be able to sleep in my bed again, and I had a vision of myself camped out in a tent on my living room floor from that day forward. I then imagined myself pitching my tent on my bed, which seemed like a stupid idea, and then suddenly I had a brainstorm. Since no-see-um netting is inadequate, what I needed was cloth which would then be used to construct a tent like barrier on my bed, which would be the final piece of the puzzle and allow me to take back ownership of my bed from those invading bed bugs.
I then realized that I already have everything I need to complete this task. I have photographic light stands that can serve as ‘tent poles'. I have a large sheet that can serve as a tent. What I plan to do is to improvise a solution using material at hand. I will go around the bottom of the tent structure where it attaches to the mattress numerous times with tape to hold it in place. I will cut open a doorway which I will seal shut with duct tape. It has also occurred to me that such a strategy might even make isolating the bed posts redundant, since if a bed bug climbed the posts it would be foiled by the bed bug tent bed protector. Even so I still plant to isolate my bed posts, since I intend to make life impossible for bed bugs and thus make life possible for myself once again, something that has not been possible ever since I discovered those bed bugs and have been fighting to reclaim my space from those invading bugs ever since.
This is a great idea, and it will work, and I am surprised I did not think of it before. I have been safe in my tent, and now I am going to reclaim my bed.
I have noticed that there are people who go to ‘arts and crafts fairs' where they sell home made goods and crafts. It has occurred to me that such a bed bug tent cover would be an excellent micro-business idea for someone with arts and crafts skills, and also an environmentally friendly bed bug elimination and management strategy. When blood sucking ecto-parasites lose their host, they are forced to wander in search of a new host, which is why bed bugs have adapted to be able to live up to one and half years without a host, thus giving them time to wander in search of a new host. Sleeping ‘tight', and not letting the bed bugs bite is therefore an optional method of getting rid of bed bugs as opposed to spraying bed bugs, which is no longer working, because bed bugs are now developing a powerful pesticide resistance.
I would like to declare this idea to be released in the form of an ‘open source patent'. There are ‘open source' software licences and so I do not see any reason why there cannot also be ‘open source patents', which means, you see, that I am ‘patenting' this idea, to prevent anyone else from doing so, and declaring the patent to be open, so that anyone can start a small micro-business catering to the emerging market for solutions to the emerging plague of bed bugs. If you read the bed bug blogs you will find that people are getting bit over and over again by bed bugs, while screaming for DDT to stop the bed bugs, as though there was no other way to stop a bed bug from biting, which means that there is a definitely an opportunity to expand the reach of those arts and craft markets beyond the usual strawberry jams and wicker baskets and so forth, by marketing an easy to use bed bug prevention tool that no bed bug can overcome.
The attached drawing shows my sketch of such a device. A very tight elastic band of some sort attaches the tent structure to the mattress. This must be a tight fit, because remember these are bed bugs we are fighting, and they can sneak through the tiniest cracks. One possible idea for a tent pole assembly would be a paddle which slips between the mattress and box spring, and has a hook which then catches rings which are attached to the cloth tent structure to give it support over the bed. Velcro is used to seal shut the entrance of the tent structure. Where-ever there are seams or stitching, it might be a good idea to seal the seams with some kind of ‘rubber' like material, since bed bug nymphs might be able to penetrate the holes left by sewing needles, since they are almost microscopic in size. I would also recommend wrapping the box spring and mattress to prevent bed bugs from by passing the blockade of the tent by exploiting any little rips and tears in the box spring or mattress which would then defeat the effectiveness of the tenting structure. If bed bugs are present, there is the possibility of contamination by bed bug eggs or nymphs after wrapping is completed, which can be eliminated mechanically by thoroughly vacuuming the wrapped mattress and box spring before attaching the bed bug tent, thus effectively excluding bed bugs and their invisible nymphs from the bed by ensuring that none are present within the area being protected by the protective tent.
For those of you with the appropriate skills, this product would make an excellent craft to be selling at those market fairs that happen from time to time, and with a bed bug plague on and people being so damned helpless, being held prisoner and tortured by a ruthless bug, there is definitely going to be a market for this product. It is an elegant solution to the bed bug problem, and it will work. It will both prevent the bed bugs from biting, and it will also eventually get rid of the bed bugs without using chemicals, because bed bugs have no known resistance to starvation, and they will move out. I feel a moral responsibility to my neighbor, since I am kicking the bed bugs out of my place, and they will of course head for the neighbor's place, and therefore I feel that I have fulfilled my responsibility to my neighbor by making this invention ‘open source' thus making it possible for my neighbor to not get bed bugs if they decide not to get bed bugs by giving them an alternative to that other business of getting bit every night and then screaming for DDT because they are helpless when attacked by some bug.
I also feel a moral responsibility to the bed bug species, and my strategy here would be to force those bed bugs to adapt not by faking their own extinction but rather by not being bed bugs anymore but rather by adapting by becoming a different type of bug. The choice they face is either extinction or further adaptation, and since being a bed bug is not going to work out for them, and since bed bugs are amazing creatures who refuse to go extinct and are constantly adapting I am confident that when put under enough pressure bed bugs can adapt by not being bed bugs anymore. For example, they could become ‘garbage bugs' and make their living by sneaking into everyone's garbage can in the dead of net. I would even leave the lid open on the garbage can for them, or better yet, I would leave a small dent in the lid so the bed bug can be real sneaky and slip through that dent and eat my garbage, and feel like it pulled off a sneak attack. Bed bugs can even be really stubborn about that new strategy by being garbage bugs that no one can get rid of no matter how many times they spray the place, thus being worse than cockroaches, which can still be exterminated, and that will be fine. Or better yet, bed bugs can eat garbage or perhaps flakes of skin, while still retaining their ability to suck blood, so that if someone tries to get rid of them by buying a tightly sealed garbage can the bed bug can then start sucking their blood instead.
You see, I have come to admire those persistent little pests, and I do not want to destroy them, but rather I want them to continue to evolve and adapt, only this time not to become sneakier blood sucking insects, but rather some other kind of bug. Given how ambitious and how fiercely determined a bed bug is I am quite sure that they can do it if they are pushed hard enough, since the alternative for them will be to go extinct.
If there is one bug that will never go extinct I am sure it is those amazing bed bugs, and I feel a moral responsibility to force those bed bugs to adapt, and faking their own extinction so they can be more sneaky is just not an option. For you see, it takes two to tango and I refuse to dance with some blood sucking bug, and the sooner the bed bug species gets that message the better it will be for them in the long run.
This work is in the public domain