Eradicated in the 1930s, bed bugs are making a big comeback. They’ve been found everywhere from homes to upscale hotels, office buildings to hospitals and cruise ships.
Just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Most people only suspect an infestation after they’ve been bitten. A bed bug bite can cause a skin rash that can be treated with an anti-itch cream. However, if the bite becomes warm to the touch, swells, or hurts, it’s time to see your doctor.
Bed bugs are like tiny vampires — they come out at night to feed on human blood. Although they typically feed every five to 10 days, bed bugs are capable of surviving for more than a year without feeding.
And because these bugs are happy hitchhikers — traveling on wood or upholstered furniture, clothing, and bedding — it’s easy to bring them into your home without even knowing it. The National Institutes of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency offer these precautions to help prevent a bed bug infestation.
In Your Home
- Wash and dry bed sheets at a high temperature (140 degrees Fahrenheit) to kill the bugs.
- When you purchase clothing (new or used), put it in a plastic bag until you can launder it. Wash in hot water, and then put the clothing into the dryer on high heat.
- Vacuum rooms thoroughly, paying special attention to the cracks and crevices.
- Encase mattresses, pillows, and box springs in protective covers to eliminate hiding places.
On the Road
- When you travel, check the mattress and headboard before sleeping. When packing or unpacking your luggage, place it on a luggage rack instead of on the bed or floor.
- When you return home, unpack directly into a washing machine, and inspect your luggage carefully.
Some Common Bed Bug Myths
|Myth: You can’t see a bed bug.|
|Reality: You should be able to see adult bed bugs, nymphs, and eggs with your naked eye.|
|Myth: Bed bugs live in dirty places.|
|Reality: Bed bugs are not attracted to dirt and grime; they are attracted to warmth, blood, and carbon dioxide.|
|Myth: Bed bugs transmit diseases.|
|Reality: There are no cases that indicate bed bugs pass diseases from one human to another. Lab tests have shown that it is unlikely that the insect is capable of infecting its human host.|
|Myth: Bed bugs won’t come out if the room is brightly lit.|
|Reality: While bed bugs prefer darkness, keeping the light on at night won’t deter these pests from biting you.|
Source: National Institutes of Health, Environmental Protection Agency