(Family Features) They may only be the size of an apple seed, but bedbugs are no small matter. While they are not known to transmit diseases, these unwanted pests can leave red, itchy welts on some people, and cause more adverse reactions in others.
Bedbugs don't discriminate. They have been found in swanky hotels and high-end offices as well as homes, dorms and apartment buildings all over the country. According to Terminix, the most bedbug-infested cities for 2011 include:
- New York
- Washington, D.C.
- Los Angeles
- San Francisco
- Columbus, Ohio
- Dayton, Ohio
- Louisville, Ky.
According to the National Pest Management Association, 95 percent of U.S. based pest management companies surveyed indicated that their company has encountered a bed bug infestation in the past year.
Pest control experts at Terminix say that bedbugs are not a sign of uncleanliness. While large urban areas or cities that attract a lot of travelers may be more susceptible to the spread of bedbugs, these pests have been found from coast to coast and in urban, suburban and rural areas alike.
Bedbugs are nocturnal. By day, they hide in cracks and crevices near beds and furniture and emerge at night to feed while their victims sleep. They are usually found in headboards, box springs, and bed frames but will also harbor in nightstands, lamps, dressers, etc. near the bed.
Bedbugs are difficult to catch in the act of feeding; however, they will leave behind signs of their presence. Infestation signs include:
- Blood spots on bedding.
- In heavily infested areas, their dark-colored excrement may be visible.
- Bedbug bites generally result in raised, itchy areas similar to those of mosquito bites.
- In heavy infestations, a strong, musty odor may develop.
Bedbugs are extremely difficult to eliminate once they infest a home, and the help of a trained professional is necessary.
What can travelers do to protect themselves from bedbugs?
- Check headboards, mattresses and box springs for bedbugs and the dark blood spots they leave behind.
- Hang all clothing. Leave nothing lying on the bed or furniture.
- Avoid unpacking clothing and storing your clothing in the hotel's furniture drawers.
- Don't allow baggage to sit on the floor. Store it on a luggage rack as far from the bed as possible.
- If you notice evidence of bedbugs, request another room or change hotels.
- When returning home, leave luggage in the garage or basement until you are able to thoroughly inspect it for bedbugs.
- Vacuum suitcases when returning from trips, and immediately wash clothing in hot water.
What can homeowners do?
- Inspect vintage furniture, antiques, used appliances or consignment items for signs of bedbugs before purchasing or bringing into the home.
- Never pick up used mattresses or furniture left curbside.
- Inspect and wash (in hot water) previously worn clothing that has been donated or purchased.
- Quarantine infested items. Moving them within the home can spread the problem.
- Use zippered encasements on infested mattresses and box springs.
- If you suspect you have bedbugs, have your home inspected by a trained professional.
For more information, visit www.terminix.com.
Photo courtesy of Terminix