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’Tis the season… for bed bug infestations? One would hope not, but the truth is, from Poughkeepsie to Portland, bed bugs spread via human travel. And travel increases dramatically during the holiday season. According to the AAA, 53.4 million Americans are expected to travel during the Thanksgiving holiday.
Holiday guests may pick up hitchhiking bed bugs in hotels or on airplanes; even those who simply travel across town may bring bed bugs with them. Fortunately, you don’t have to imitate Ebenezer Scrooge to protect yourself from bed bugs this holiday season. Don’t hole up in your home out of fear; instead, follow the bed bug pest control methods described below.
Bed bugs are rascally little critters. Instead of lounging around in bed, they scurry into walls and baseboards during daylight hours. Then, as night approaches, they emerge to feed on the blood of their sleeping human hosts. Moving beds away from walls leaves one fewer place for bed bugs to hide.
Thankfully, bed bugs can’t jump or fly. Therefore, one simple method of bed bug pest control is to tuck in sheets and blankets. Obviously, bed bugs hiding on guests’ luggage will still be able to climb up bedposts, but tucking in bedding eliminates one easy route to the bed bug kitchen table.
Pest control professionals recommend having guests unpack their bags, which should then be stored away from bedrooms. This will prevent bed bugs from migrating from luggage to beds.
No matter where they are, pest control professionals look for one tell-tale sign of bed bug presence: “blood spots,” tiny specks of bed bug poop that are dark in color. Bed bugs leave their feces near feeding grounds and hideouts. Dressing beds with white or pastel sheets facilitates easy identification of blood spots. If you find such spots, contact a local bed bug pest control company immediately.
Entomologists recommend encasing mattresses and box springs in vinyl or polyurethane covers. Specially made bed bug pest control encasements provide a barrier that bed bugs cannot cross; and if they cannot burrow into the mattress between feedings, it is less likely they will be able to survive.
Provide a hook where guests can hang up coats and other items. Set up a luggage rack or small table for your guests. Eliminate any unnecessary clutter. This will minimize the places where bed bugs can hide between feedings.
After your holiday guests have left, place bed linens in plastic bags, carry the bags directly to your laundry room, and immediately place bedding into your washer. This will prevent bed bugs and their eggs from being spread throughout your home. Throw away the plastic bags, placing them in your outdoor trash.
When washing anything that may have come in contact with bed bugs, use the highest possible temperature settings. As any Portland pest control professional can tell you, bed bugs can’t survive heat over 113 degrees Fahrenheit. This high temperature must be sustained for a minimum of thirty minutes to be effective. Indeed, to destroy bed bug eggs, 120-degree heat must be sustained for a solid hour. (Bed bugs themselves can’t survive more than thirty minutes of such temperatures.)
Finally, practice good bed bug pest control by thoroughly vacuuming your home. Once you’re done, immediately double-bag the vacuum bag and throw it in the outdoor trash.
Stay on alert for a couple of weeks after your guests have departed. Look for live bed bugs or their exoskeletons. Mattress seams, carpet edges and the undersides of sofa cushions are favorite hiding places for live bed bugs. Also, keep an eye out for blood smears and fecal dots around baseboards, heating vents, sheets, mattresses, underneath box springs and behind headboards. Finally, if you and your family discover mosquito-like bites, especially after sleeping, you can bet that your guests left a bed bug pest control problem.
If you find any of these signs, contact a professional pest control company immediately. Time is of the essence in bed bug pest control, since females lay eggs extremely rapidly. Fortunately, bed bugs tend to hover around the beds of their hosts, so you can prevent an infestation from jumping to another room by acting quickly.
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