Bed Bug Resurgence Scares Spring Break TravelersThursday, April 05, 2012 By Kaitlin Kumbalek
As students and their families return from spring break in the tropical locations, they bring with them tan lines, sun burns and, for the unfortunate traveler, bed bugs. A recent outburst of the pesky little creatures in hotels, homes and even hospitals, not to mention the mere possibility of their presence, is enough to thoroughly worry a returning vacationer. In light of April's being National Pest Management Month, I thought I would shed some light on the situation and help us Americans protect against the little guys and prevent your being the victim of a bed bug attack. But first, a little background on the bugs themselves. Bed bugs are flat, oval and usually about the size of an apple seed when full grown or about the size of a poppy seed when still young. They are most active at night when we are sleeping, but can still feed during the day. Most people do not even feel the bites at all and may not even react to them. Most people, however, will swell where the bug injected its mild anesthetic and sucked out the blood, forming a little welt. Don’t worry though. That is the only physical side effect. Bed bugs are not known to spread disease so a little red dot is about all you can expect from a bed bug bite. I say physical , however, because people can have anxiety over their bed's being infested and lose sleep over the possibility. If you want to check your beds, couches or other furniture for the little creatures, they are big enough to see but there are other telltale signs. If there are rust colored smears or small black or brown marks on your furniture, you could have some little friends sleeping with you at night. If this is the case, experts advise not to panic, but act quickly. You can hire a good, licensed pest management professional who can take care of the situation in only a few visits. They are professionals for a reason, though. Don’t try and become a professional for a day and treat it yourself. Your best and most reliable bet is to trust the ones who make a living doing this. If you haven’t found signs of an invasion, there are ways to prevent a future one. Try not to have a lot of clutter around your house, especially in areas around couches, beds, or other frequented furniture since that is just giving the bugs another place to hide out. Make sure you keep a clean house, consistently cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and furniture, which is probably a good thing to do whether or not you are worried about bed bugs. Seal up your stuff. There are encasements for your mattress and box springs you can buy to keep any type of bug out. It is also advisable to seal cracks in your walls, doors or any other point of entry for the bugs. Another big one is to only use reliable furniture in your home. If you find a soggy futon on the side of the street, no matter how good its condition looks to be, bringing it into your home is basically inviting in the enemy. And finally, be careful when traveling. Bed bugs are most commonly introduced into a home by the residents themselves, unknowingly transferring the bugs from their hotel bed, to their clothes, to their home. A few tricks of the trade to keep in mind, since most of us probably don’t travel with a pest management professional, are based on using caution! Visually inspect the beds for bugs; double check just to be safe. There is actually a Bed Bug Registry that you can check to see if your hotel has had any recent bed bug outbreaks. You can also use heat. Although it is not always a foolproof method, running a hair dryer over the mattress for a few minutes can drive the bugs out. Also, keep your suitcases off the floor and bed; this can prevent the bugs from crawling on or into your suitcase and hitching a ride back to your place. So now that you feel as though your skin is crawling and the slightest of pressure leads you to believe you are in the midst of a bed bug infestation, you now have the basic information to fight back against the little creepy creatures.