I am afraid I've passed on my anxiety about bedbugs to my oldest daughter, who refers to them only as the b-word. I'm on a mission to get her and her sisters to rid their rooms of all clutter; that way, if I ever were to have an invasion of the critters, they'd have fewer places to hide. As a backup measure, to nip the bugs in the bud, I dream of getting a bedbug-sniffing beagle.
Despite having skimmed numerous articles and having perked up my ears, the many times I heard the b-word mentioned on the radio, I continued to feel woefully ignorant. I was afraid to read or listen too carefully, afraid of what I might learn, until recently. Hoping I'd blown the whole fantasy way out of proportion, I was ready to take the plunge and investigate.
A page of frequently-asked questions about pest management on a Cornell University Website provides answers to every question I could think of. As worrisome as it all sounds, the Site reassures that you can eradicate bedbugs; however, you will save time and money by making a plan and hiring a specialist once you confirm that you do indeed have these dreadful visitors. The information, some of which I have summarized below is organized into four sections.
What Bedbugs Are And What They Do
In this section you can see a picture of a bedbug and read a description of what they look like, which includes their reddish-brown color. The good news is that no one thinks bedbugs carry disease, though if you scratch the bites, as with any irritation, you could get an infection.
The look of bites can vary from person to person; some people get no reaction at all. It's a myth that bites always come in threes. Bedbugs are equal-opportunity creatures and are as likely to take up residence in clean areas as well as dirty ones. They are after blood rather than freshly-Windexed surfaces.
How to Find Bedbugs
If you don't want to get too creeped out, suffice to know, "Any place with a high turnover of people spending the night—hostels, hotels near airports, and resorts—are most at risk." Other places mentioned are: apartments, barracks, buses, cabins, churches, community centers, cruise ships, dormitories, dressing rooms, health clubs, homes, hospitals, jets, laundromats, motels, motor homes, moving vans, nursing homes, office buildings, resorts, restaurants, schools, subways, theaters, trains, used furniture outlets.
Luggage, briefcases, used furniture and backpacks are common modes of bedbug transportation. Happily, they are not likely to travel on your clothing.
Under the sub-heading "How do I find out if I have bedbugs?" you will see a list of supplies, such as flashlight and magnifier, along with instructions for inspecting mattresses and other areas, which include mattress piping. Little drops of blood on the bedding are one obvious clue.
How to Prevent Bedbugs
This section advises how to inspect a hotel room, for instance, looking behind the headboad. You should also inspect drawers and shelves. It's best to avoid unpacking altogether and to keep your luggage closed when not in use. You are advised not to put your suitcase on the bed.
After you return home, don't unpack on a carpet, rather, a light-colored linoleum floor is ideal for spotting any hitchhikers you may have acquired while away. Consider laundering the clothing from your trip at a high temperature and putting other items in the freezer.
How to Deal With Bedbugs.
Among tips for making your home unwelcome to bedbugs and making finding them easier are:
- Use mattress and box spring encasements.
- Vaccuum regularly and use an attachment for getting into crevices.
- Avoid putting furniture against walls.
As for don'ts, "Don't panic." As I mentioned earlier, for chemical control, once you have identified bedbugs, you should call in a specialist. Similarly, some pest control companies use heat to kill bedbugs. By trying to get rid of the bugs on your own, you risk making the infestation worse. Usually it's better to let them stay at rest until you get professional help. This Cornell Website provides many more details and is a great resource.
To see my own idea for a bedbug prevention invention, read my post with that title on my blog, Confessions of a Worrywart.
Please comment and let us know anything you have learned. Also, it would be thrilling to hear some optimism on this subject!