(ARA) The old adage, "Sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite," is more than a nursery rhyme. To some, these pests have become a nightmare. Bedbugs, which were all but eliminated in the United States following World War II, have made their way back into the States and are spreading from coast to coast.
"Bedbugs have become a national problem, and few areas have remained unaffected by their return," Stoy Hedges, entomologist and director of technical services at Terminix, said.
Bedbugs are insects that lurk in the cracks and crevices of mattresses, box springs, headboards and furniture by day and emerge at night to feed on their sleeping victims. Small enough to stow away in a pants cuff, these hitchhikers can spread from city to city or continent to continent by crawling into luggage or attaching to clothing.
"Twenty years ago, people thought bedbugs were just a part of a popular children's rhyme, but Americans are learning the hard way that bed bugs are more than a myth," Hedges said. "In the past year, we've seen our bedbug reports jump by nearly 70 percent, and we're even getting reports of these pests in four-and five-star hotels."
Increasing international travel and changing pest control practices are thought to be leading contributors to the bedbug's resurgence.
"The explosion in bedbug cases should be no surprise," Dr. Gary Bennett, a Purdue University entomologist, said. "Although bedbugs were nearly wiped out in the United States, they remained quite common in other parts of world and are now using our travel patterns as a way to hitch a ride back into the United States."
While bedbugs are commonly considered a sign of unsanitary conditions, experts agree that the stealthy vermin are not a reflection of cleanliness. Bedbugs are opportunistic and will infest even the nicest hotels and homes.
Bedbugs aren't known to spread disease, but bites can leave painful, itchy welts. Unfortunately for victims, doctors commonly misdiagnose the bites, confusing them with other insect bites or general skin ailments.
Travelers can protect themselves by doing the following:
Check around headboards, mattresses and box springs for bedbugs and the dark blood spots they leave behind.
Hang all clothing. Leave nothing lying on the bed or furniture.
Do not allow your baggage to sit on the floor. Store it on a luggage rack as far from the bed as possible.
Do not take a personal pillow, blankets or sheets on a trip. Bedbugs can hide in these and be brought home.
Use a plastic trash bag to seal your luggage while at the hotel. This will help keep bedbugs out.
Vacuum suitcases when returning from trips and immediately wash clothing in hot water.
For more information about bedbugs and other seasonal pests, visit www.terminix.com, or call (800)-TERMINIX.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
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