“Bed bugs are the great hitchhiker of the bug world, and they are very difficult to control without professional help,” says Ron Harrison, an entomologist.
“Bed bugs can travel in luggage and other personal belongings to enter your home,” Harrison says. “They don’t just hide in beds — they can be found in furniture, bed posts, rugs and even electrical outlets.”
Bed bugs are found throughout the nation. The San Francisco Bay Area ranks No. 14 among the country’s Top 50 locations.
Bed bugs are not necessarily a sign of uncleanliness. They have been found in upscale homes and hotels, movie theaters, schools and in public transit.
Homeowners, tenants and travelers all over the world should take the following precautions to help prevent bed bugs:
Inspect your home for signs of bed bugs regularly. Check locations where bed bugs hide during the day, including furniture, mattress seams and bed sheets, as well as behind baseboards, electrical outlets and picture frames.
Decrease clutter around your home to make bed bug inspections and detection much easier.
Inspect and quarantine all secondhand furniture before bringing it inside your home.
When doing laundry, dry potentially infested bed linens, curtains and stuffed animals on the hottest temperature allowed for the fabric.
Remember the acronym SLEEP to inspect for bed bugs:
Survey the hotel room for signs of an infestation. Look for red or brown spots on sheets.
Lift and look in bed bug hiding spots: the mattress, box spring, sheets and furniture, as well as behind baseboards, pictures and even torn wallpaper.
Elevate luggage on a rack away from the bed and wall. The safest places are in the bathroom or on counters.
Examine your luggage while repacking and once you return home from a trip.
Place all dryer-safe clothing from your luggage in the dryer for at least 15 minutes at the highest setting after you return home.
Bed bugs are not known to spread human diseases like many other pests and while some people have no reaction to bed bug bites, others may experience itchy red welts and swelling.
Since a resurgence in the late 1990s, bed bugs persist as a problem across the United States. According to recent surveys by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), 99.6 percent of pest professionals surveyed treated for bed bugs in 2015 and one out of five Americans has had a bed bug infestation in their home or knows someone who has encountered bed bugs at home or in a hotel.
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