From city to city by plane; from couch to floor board and floor board to building, the infestation of bedbugs has begun. Are you safe?
Bedbugs are blood-sucking, nocturnal insects. They’re about the size of a period mark and live in swarms. Bedbug eggs are close to invisible, and a pregnant bug can lay five eggs a day. To add to their numbers, they live about ten months and can survive weeks without feasting.
Bedbugs are known for their ability to travel great distances with ease. Not only do they latch onto suitcases, clothing and upholstery, but so do their eggs.
Bedbugs survive in hoards, latch on to everything, and are almost impossible to kill. Exterminators may have to come back three or four more times to officially kill a hoard in a single home. They survive in temperatures from 25 degrees F to 125 degrees F. Plus, most pesticides are ineffective, and the ones that got rid of the bedbug attack after WWII are banned due to the hazards they have on wildlife.
Because these bugs live in most conditions, and travel easily, it’s not out of the question that they will infest Seattle just as they have many other cities.
It’s possible that the spread has already begun. Exterminators and the Seattle Health Department have been receiving more phone calls because of possible cases of bedbugs.
In cities, bedbugs are most commonly found in motels, hotels and apartments. Bedbugs are able to crawl in between baseboards and travel building to building. If you plan on traveling, check www.bedbugregistry.com for a list of hotels that have been infested.
A worse case scenario has already occurred on the East Coast. Not only are hotels and apartments jeopardized, but so are public stores and forms of transportation. Buses, airplanes, clothing stores and several movie theaters and have all been found to have bedbugs. Once out in public, the infestation spreads rapidly.
If you are concerned that your home is infested, look for small red welts on your or family members’ skin. The welts are commonly confused with flea bites, but flea bites have a small red dot in the center and bedbug bites do not. Bedbugs feast at night, so welts are more likely to appear in the morning. If bites from any bug are found, put all of your clothing in a washing machine and a dryer for at least 20 minutes.
To check own home or motel for bedbugs, check the most common living quarters of these pests. Couches, beds, and upholsteries are their favorites. They enjoy living in the seams of the cushions and box springs. Also check in wood cracks in baseboards, desks and dressers. If a credit card can fit in the crack, so can bedbugs.
Look for little red bodies very similar to fleas, small blood platters from squashed bugs and empty skin shells. An easy way to avoid hand contact is to wear gloves and use a credit card in seams and cracks. If any bugs or shells come out, contact an exterminator immediately.
While checking for bugs, especially if in a hotel, don’t allow physical contact with the possible infestation. Put suitcases in the bathtub so it cannot become infected, and then proceed the search. Request a room swap immediately and demand for the hotel or apartment to steam clean your clothing.
Be careful not to bring the bugs home because once they are there, it can cost thousands of dollars and the loss of personal belongings to get rid of the blood suckers.
Wash clothing frequently, and stay vigilant because you aren’t safe. And remember, don’t let the bedbugs bite.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost