Bedbug nation: Fight back

Size of a bed bug.

They attack by night and then slip into hiding during the day. They’ve infiltrated upscale hotels, college dorms, movie houses. Just recently they forced Nike’s flagship store in Manhattan to temporarily shut down. Other retailers have been affected including Victoria’s Secret, trendy Abercrombie and Fitch and even upscale Bloomingdales.

Cash strapped states are seeking help from the Defense Department and EPA to stop them. Even dogs are being trained to sniff them out. What are they? Terrorists? No, they’re bedbugs. And the nocturnal creepy crawlers are a nationwide problem.

So why the recent infestations and what can you do to purge or protect your home against them? Well the CDC notes three likely causes: a lack of awareness of bedbugs, lots of international travel, and an over-reliance on pesticides that don’t often work. With the summer travel season ended and students again returning to schools and colleges the CDC believes the bedbug problem will likely get worse before getting better.

So how do you know you have these most unwelcome visitors? The oval shaped, rusty-red colored bugs are visible to the naked eye but they hide in the cracks and crevices of your room and come out at night to bite and feed (amazingly, they survive months without feeding). And because their bite is painless, the first sign of infestation is usually the large, itchy welts they leave on skin. Other tell tale signs include bloodstains on bedding from crushed bugs or dark spots from droppings.

Getting rid of bedbugs can be challenging and dangerous. They are resistant to some pesticides so many won’t work. And although they don’t transmit disease killing them may require repeated spraying which can risk human health. You’ll need insecticides labeled for household use with the active ingredients “pyrethrins” (If you rent your landlord may be required to help get rid of the pests). Afterward, clean bedding, linens, curtains and dry them on the highest dryer setting or dry clean. Soak delicates in warm water with lots of laundry soap for several hours or freeze them for a few days (seriously). Vacuum mattresses and box springs then put them in a waterproof, zippered mattress cover for a year to trap and kill bedbugs. Or, in winter leave mattresses outside for a few days in temps -25 F. Also, wipe away or vacuum the bed frame and nearby furniture and vacuum and steam-clean carpets. Dispose of the vacuum bag.

If two weeks have passed and you still see signs of bedbugs repeat the above steps. Serious infestations may require multiple visits from professional exterminators. After which, you’ll still have to be diligent, especially when living in multifamily buildings vulnerable to re-infestation from adjoining units. For more bedbug solutions BING “CDC and bedbugs.”

(Healthy Living News)

To be sure your hotel is bedbug free, read online customer reviews or go to bedbugregistry.com. Upon checking-in, inspect the room. Leave luggage in the tub, then carefully examine under the sheets and mattress. Inspect drawers and furniture also. If evidence of bugs are found, leave! If the room seems clean, hang clothes in the closet and put suitcases on closet shelves to keep bugs away. Once home, put your travel cloths in the dryer for 30 minutes or dry clean. Soak dedicates in strong detergent or freeze them. Wrap suitcases inside a plastic bag for a year or place them in a very hot or very cold environment (+140 F, -25 F) for several days.(Healthy Living News)

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