Unwary travelers may inadvertently bring bedbugs back home if they are not careful. We generally hear about them in major cities, but the problem has been increasing in northwestern Ohio.
The best defense against bedbugs is to keep them out of your home, which requires diligence when you travel. When staying at a motel, check the bed, mattress, springs, and wall hangings.
Often, adult bedbugs are not seen.
So, 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 near their hiding places.
If anything is suspicious, get 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. Do not put clothing in the dressers. Keep bags zipped.
When you get home, check bags and containers for bedbugs before moving them to the bedroom.
Clothing should be washed in hot water. Hot water kills bedbugs. Similar precautions should be taken when family members move home from an apartment or dormitory.
Other beetles that fly may end up in a person’s bedroom. So, a bug found in the bedroom does not mean it is a bedbug.
Bedbugs do not have wings. Bedbug adults are brown to reddish-brown, oval-shaped, flattened, and about three-sixteenth to one-fifth of an inch long.
Their shape resembles 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 bedbugs may deposit from one to 12 eggs per day.
Bedbugs are fast-moving insects. 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 bedbugs. Welts do not have a red spot in the center, such as is characteristic of flea bites.
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 OSU Extension office to confirm identification, but make sure they are in a sealed container.
Bedbugs are difficult to eliminate. Baits, insect fogs, insect bombs, and do-it-yourself remedies do not effectively eradicate them.
Eradication will most likely require a professional exterminator, more expense than one would like, 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 is mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, lice, chiggers, or cockroaches.
Fortunately, bedbugs are 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.
Additional information may be found in the OSU “Fact Sheet on Bedbugs” at http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/2105.html.
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.