Sunday, October 30, 2011


Due to a particularly unforgettable - and harrowing - episode of This American Life, I have a developed what is likely an irrational fear of bed bugs. Or perhaps it's a healthy fear, I'm not quite sure.

Either way, I never travel now without inspecting hotel room mattresses and dumping the contents of my suitcases into the washer (and more importantly a hot dryer) upon my return.

Seems I'm not the only one obsessed. Entrepreneurs are catching onto this phenomenon, not to mention cashing in on it, according to a report I received recently from the North American Bed Bug Summit.

This Chicago event attracted more than 700, double last year's attendance, and the number of vendors exhibiting also more than doubled, to 75. Because there is no "silver bullet" to rid the afflicted of bed bugs, inventors and marketers see a wide-open field in which to sell their solutions, at least until Big Pesticide weighs in.

As the summit organizers put it, "Because bedbugs are lucrative, entrepreneurs are hopeful their product will be a hit among customers." Because hey, when you've got bed bugs, you'll buy anything that claims it can help - or so I imagine.

I'm glad that entrepreneurs have a new market, but I hope someone invents that silver bullet (or silver cross, or garlic necklace) soon. My mother used to tuck me in every night with, "Sleep tight, and don't let the bed bugs bite." I'm sure she never realized that one day her catchphrase might be taken literally.


  1. There's a buck to be made everywhere.

  2. "Bedbugs are lucrative"! Oh, life is never boring.

  3. Oh dear!
    Well, lots of industries are fear-based.
    Heck, entire govts enter wars based on FUD,
    fear, uncertainty and doubt.
    Gentle recommendation--turn off the radio, even if it is Ira Glass.
    (This is coming from someone who avoids the front section, and skips straight to the comics.
    The front section needs a bit more irony for it to be comical.)

  4. Yes, there's a decent dollar to be made in almost any business, I guess!

    I'd like to be able to skip the news sometimes, but I'm afraid it's a genetic compulsion with me. I come from a long line of news hounds, newspaper publishers and printers going back to the Revolution. My mother could not go more than a few hours without checking in on "what's going on" and neither can I.