“Don’t let the bed bugs bite” is an old bedtime rhyme that has become too real for some people due to a resurgence of this blood-sucking insect in recent years.
The resurgence is causing some entomologists to caution those who travel since the most common way for bed bugs to invade new areas is by crawling into the clothes and luggage of unsuspecting hotel guests and going home with them.
“No one wants these in their home, or even wants to think about them. They’re gruesome,” said Tommy Irvin, Georgia commissioner of agriculture. “They can be difficult and costly to eradicate, so prevention is best.”
Bed bugs usually hide in the small crevices of furniture such as beds, couches and chairs during the day and come out at night to feed on humans and other warm-blooded animals. Their bites may cause red bumps that itch, or welts, blisters, skin rashes and hives in severe cases. Although bed bugs are not known to transmit any kind of disease to humans, the emotional trauma they inflict can seem overwhelming.
Here are some tips from Irvin and the state Department of Agriculture’s Structural Pest Control Division to help keep your house free of bed bugs and to prevent spreading them:
• While staying in a hotel, check mattresses, headboards, box springs and other upholstered furniture for spotted stains that could be dried blood or bug excrement. Any hotel — from five-star to flophouse — could have bed bugs.
• Unpack/check luggage outside after a trip before bringing it into the house.
• Do not keep luggage stored under a bed.
• Keeping mattresses tightly sealed in a plastic encasement will keep bed bugs out.
• Avoid bringing used furniture, particularly mattresses, into the home.
• When disposing of infested furniture, be sure to disfigure the item somehow — cut the fabric, pour paint on it, etc. — in addition to clearly labeling that the item is infested in order to keep someone else from picking it up and spreading the problem.
• Consulting a professional pest control company is the best way to ensure the problem will be thoroughly eliminated.
More information about bed bugs and preventative measures can be found at http://www.uos.harvard.edu/ehs/pes_bedbug.shtml.