“Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.” It’s more than just an expression. Bed bugs, which used to be more common before the 1950s ,have been on the increase since the 1990s.
Bed bugs get their name from their habit of feeding on humans while they sleep. Adults are brown and about 1/4 inch long. They are found in every place that people tend to gather, hotels, stores, offices, homes and public transportation. They are most commonly found in hotels, dormitories and apartments.
June 3 – 9 is National Bed Bug Awareness Week and a great time to review some tips on how to avoid these troublesome pests.
Never bring second-hand furniture, especially mattresses and box springs, into your home without a thorough inspection or, even better, having the bedding sanitized by a licensed sanitizer.
If you have come into contact with bed bugs, or visited a home that you suspect has bed bugs, take the following precautions. Place all washable items in the dryer on high heat for 30 minutes and put all non-washable items that are not temperature-sensitive in the freezer for 24 hours. Plastic bags and tight-lidded containers are effective at controlling the spread of bedbugs but not at killing them. A bedbug can live several months without feeding.
Remember that bedbugs like to hide and only come out at night to feed. Which means you must look for the bugs when checking into a hotel room.
Use an LED flashlight to look for black spots that look like ink stains on the headboard, mattress, box spring and bed frame. This is the blood-filled fecal matter of bedbugs and is typically found around their hiding spaces. Also look for alive or dead bedbugs. Fully grown bedbugs move slowly, like ants, and are about the size of an apple seed. Finally, look for skin that has been shed by bedbugs during the molting process.
Remember that bed bugs can travel on luggage from other travelers and any hotel, regardless of price range, can get them.
“When checking into a hotel the first impulse is the throw your suitcase on the bed,” said Kay Harris, program administrator for the Structural Pest Control and Pesticides Sleep Products section. “The best place to keep your suitcase is in the shower until you have completed the room’s inspection.” The National Pest Management Association also recommends vacuuming your suitcases before bringing them back into your home.
“The good news is bedbugs do not transmit diseases,” Harris added. “The bad news is that eradicating bedbugs from your home can be difficult and expensive. If you suspect bedbugs, call a pest control company that is licensed by the NCDA&CS Structural Pest Control and Pesticides Division. Treatment measures typically involve chemical or thermal remediation, which includes heating homes or spaces to about 150 degrees. To learn more about bedbugs, go to the National Pest Management Association’s pest guide.