Bedbugs are making a comeback around the world, including in the US. They are increasingly common pests, especially in hotels and apartment buildings, but are now even expanding to movie theaters, stores, and office buildings. Here are some tips for avoiding a bedbug infestation in your home.
~Know what bedbugs look like and where they hide
Your best weapon against bedbugs is knowledge. The Harvard School of Public Health is a good resource for information and bedbugger.com has a variety of pictures. Bedbugs are most often observed in the seams around a mattress and behind the bed board, but may hide anywhere in the bedroom and can also take up residence in and around couches or chairs. Bedbugs can also be found living in chairs at the movie theater, clothing at a store, or desks at work. If you spot one, then there are many more hiding.
~Avoid used furniture that may have bedbugs
Used furniture can harbor bedbugs. Be especially careful of furniture put out on the curb that may have been discarded because of a bedbug infestation. Avoid buying used bedroom furniture and upholstered chairs or sofas. Bedbug are natural hiders and can fit into small cracks that even a close inspection may miss.
~Don’t bring bedbugs home from vacation
Always check your hotel room for signs of bedbugs, including dark or red spots on the sheets or mattress. Use a flashlight to look behind the headboard and between the mattress and box spring. Avoid storing your suitcase on the bed and use a luggage rack to elevate the suitcase and keep it further from the bed.
You may also want to check the bedbug registry or do an online search for the name of your hotel and the word “bedbugs”, but remember that any hotel can get bedbugs. Look for signs of multiple, ongoing problems or signs that the hotel is not taking the extermination process or guest complaints seriously.
~Take steps if you may have been in contact with bedbugs
If you stayed in a hotel that may have had bedbugs or were in an office or public place that has them, be careful to avoid introducing them into your home. Wash all clothing immediately in hot water and machine dry. Heat is the most efficient way to kill bedbugs at all stages of life. For items that can’t be washed and dried, examine them closely over a light colored surface. The bathtub is a good place for unpacking and inspecting luggage and bags since it is easier to spot escaping bugs.
~Act quickly if you spot an infestation
Extermination is easier if a bedbug problem is identified early. Waiting to act gives the bedbugs time to reproduce and spread. Now that you know what bedbugs look like, keep an eye open for them. If you observe them at a public place, hotel, or workspace, report the problem right away to avoid having them spread to other people’s homes.
If you observe a bedbug in your home, try to get a sample bug and contact a reputable exterminator with experience with bedbugs. The exterminator will verify the problem and begin getting rid of them.
Don’t panic about bedbugs, but do know the facts. These once uncommon pests are becoming a reality. They have made their presence known in the fanciest hotels, the cleanest homes , and the strangest of places. Taking simple precautions and knowing how to spot and react to an infestation is more important than ever.
Harvard School of Public Health
More Offices See Bedbug Infestations, USA Today
Bedbugs Movie Theater Invasion, CBS News
Bedbugs Strike Second Abercrombie Store in Manhattan, Wall Street Journal