Auburn, Alabama — With the summer months here, many have one thing in mind…vacation! The one time of the year you get to kick off your shoes and take a break from the hustle and bustle that daily life sends your way. Just a week away from your daily routine can leave you feeling revitalized and ready to tackle anything that comes your way…well, almost anything.
Imagine coming home from a week in paradise only to discover that the seashell from your snorkeling adventure was not the only thing you brought back from your vacation. You have little red bites on your legs and cannot imagine what it could be. After a little research, you discover those bites are from bed bugs.
This seems impossible! After all, the childhood rhyme “Goodnight, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite” was just for fun…or was it?
From the 1950’s to the 1990’s, bed bugs seemed to disappear and many people grew up without ever seeing or hearing about them. According to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System over the past 20 years, bed bugs have made a recovery and are once again common across the United States. Bed bugs are beginning to place increased pressure on Alabama residents, and the number of incidences is expected to rise in the coming years.
Let’s take a look at what bed bugs are and what you can do to prevent the little pests from taking up residence in your home.
Know the Facts
Bed bugs are tiny insects that rely on the blood of humans or animals to survive. Most commonly found on mattresses, box springs, headboards and bed frames, these nocturnal parasites do not like light. That’s one reason they are hard to detect. Although small, they can be seen with careful observation.
Bed bugs can invade even the cleanest of homes. They are most often found in hotels, dorms, shelters and apartment complexes where lots of people come and go. Because bedbugs hide in small crevices, they can be carried into your home on luggage, pets, furniture, clothing, boxes and other objects.
Itchy, red bites on the skin, usually on legs, arms and shoulders may be the first signs you notice. Most often, they leave a straight row of bites. Bites may not appear for several days after occurring.
Prevention is the best method of controlling bed bugs, and the driving idea behind all of these is to avoid bringing them into your home. Alabama Extension professionals offer this advice.
- Always check belongings and yourself after traveling to any high traffic area (airports, hotels, movie theaters, department stores, etc.). These are the most likely places to have bed bugs.
- Avoid bringing home used furniture or mattresses if you do not know where they came from.
- When staying at a hotel, always inspect your room. Pay specific attention to the mattress and area surrounding the bed. Look for fecal stains and shed skins of bed bugs.
- Decrease clutter around the bed. This reduces the number of hiding places for bed bugs and makes inspection and identification of an infestation much easier.
- If you suspect bed bugs, wash and dry (high heat) belongings or place them in a freezer for several days.
Be aware that bed bugs do exist and know the facts so you can prevent the infestation of your home.
When on vacation, take the time to make an initial inspection. It could save you a lot of time, stress and money.
For more information, see Alabama Extension’s Battling Bed Bugs: Know your Enemy at http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-1464/ANR-1464.pdf.
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