Don’t let the bedbugs bite

This is my annual reminder to be aware of situations that may inadvertently bring bedbugs to your home.
Late spring and early summer activities put many of us at a greater risk, such as family members moving from apartments or dormitories, lodging in motels, and children participating in youth summer camps.
Bedbugs continue to be a problem in Ohio, including Hancock and surrounding counties. I cannot stress enough that you do not want to introduce them to your home.
Bedbugs like to hitchhike on clothing, luggage, and other items that have come in contact with an infested location. Some of these locations may include apartments, motels, summer camps, and homes of friends and relatives.
Inspect items that are being brought into your home after traveling and especially items from children returning from apartments, dormitories, and camps. When staying at a motel, check the bed, mattress, springs, and wall hangings for signs of bedbugs.
Often adult bedbugs are not seen in infested motel rooms. Look for rusty to dark spots of excrement on sheets and mattresses, bedding, and walls. Fecal spots, eggshells, and shed skins may also be found in the vicinity of their hiding places.
If anything suspicious is found, request another room. Also, do not leave clothing, open suitcases or other containers on beds not in use, even if a room appears to be clean.
Store luggage on the stands provided in many motels. Do not store clothing in the dressers. Keep bags zipped when not is use.
Upon return, check bags and containers for bedbugs before moving them to the bedroom. Clothing should be removed from luggage and washed in hot water (hot water kills bedbugs). Similar precautions should be taken when family members move back home after being in an apartment or dormitory or return from summer camp.
Another source of bedbugs is used bedding, mattresses, couches, recliners and other upholstered furniture. Extra caution should be used when purchasing these used items and remember, “free” mattresses for you to pick up may bring other gifts that you will regret.
Avoid bedrooms and upholstered furniture if you have to enter a premises that you suspect may have bedbugs. Bedbugs will be in areas where people sleep. Kitchen and hard back chairs would be the choice area to minimize contact with bedbugs. Be careful where you set down items such as backpacks, bags, purses, and coats.
An insect in a bedroom does not mean it is a bedbug, particularly if it is flying or has wings. Bedbugs do not have wings. Bedbug adults are brown to reddish-brown, oval-shaped, flattened, and about 3/16 to 1/5 inch long.
Their shape resembles the undeveloped seeds found occasionally in seedless watermelons. The body becomes more elongated, swollen, and dark red after a blood meal.
Juveniles are nymphs that may be much smaller and almost clear until feeding. Female bed bugs may deposit from one to 12 eggs per day.
Bed bugs are fast-moving insects that are nocturnal. They feed mostly at night when their host is asleep.
The bite is painless. A small, hard, swollen, white welt may develop at the site of each bite.
Rows of three or so welts on exposed skin are characteristic signs of bed bugs. Welts do not have a red spot in the center such as is characteristic of flea bites.
Rusty-red spots or streaks on bed sheets is another indicator that bedbugs may have been feeding. In many cases the excrement of bedbugs is found in a bedroom before the actual sighting of the insect.
If you suspect that your home has been infested with bedbugs, look for the signs and try to confirm identification of an adult. Insects may be brought to the Ohio State University Extension office to confirm identification, but make sure they are in a sealed container.
Bedbugs are difficult to eliminate once established in a dwelling. Over-the-counter baits, insect fogs, insect bombs, and do-it-yourself remedies do not work.
Eradication will most likely require a professional exterminator, several insecticide applications, extensive cleaning and sanitation, and perseverance and patience.
Bedbugs do not reflect one’s status in life. Generally everyone will have to deal with an insect parasite or pest sometime in their life, whether it be mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, lice, chiggers, or cockroaches.
Disease may be associated with some of the insects listed above. Fortunately, bedbugs are generally not a carrier of a more serious disease. However, some individuals may be more allergic and react to their bites.
Good sanitation in the home is the best defense for all types of insect concerns. However, precaution is the best defense against bedbugs and careful travelers should take steps to prevent their unwelcome visit.
Additional information may be found on the Ohio State University bedbug website maintained by Dr. Susan Jones, OSU bedbug entomologist, at http://u.osu.edu/bedbugs/.
Lentz is extension educator for agriculture and natural resources for The Ohio State University Extension Service in Hancock County. He can be reached at 419-422-3851 or via email at lentz.38@osu.edu.
Lentz can be heard with Vaun Wickerham on weekdays at 6:35 a.m. on WFIN, at 5:43 a.m. on WKXA-FM, and at 5:28 a.m. at 106.3 The Fox.



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