Health Feature Articles
Don’t let the bedbugs bite
Janet Hackert, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Harrison County, University of Missouri Extension
Bedbugs can be a serious problem and are very difficult to get rid of — they cling on clothes and hide in the crevices of mattresses and couches. During this season of bargains at yard sales, avoid picking up second-hand beds, mattresses and couches that may be infested with this pest.
If there are bedbugs present, they could be the 3/16-inch long reddish-brown, oval, flattened adults; the smaller nymphs; or the tiny, pin-point-sized, straw-colored eggs. Where there is an infestation, there is also likely to be dark spots, indicating the bedbugs’ excrement. Also, bedbugs tend to come out and bite (and suck the victim’s blood) at night and hide during the day. Bug bites that show up in the morning that were not there the night before may be a sign of a bedbug problem.
When staying at hotels or motels, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service entomologist Michael Potter recommends examining the bed sheets and upper and lower seams of the mattress and box spring, especially along the head of the bed. Do not leave luggage on the floor. Place on a table or up on another hard surface. If any bedbugs are suspected, ask for another room away from the effected room. Wash clothing immediately upon returning home, before unpacking.
University of Minnesota assistant professor of entomology, Stephen Kells, is studying how to destroy bed bugs without using dangerous chemicals. He found that even dipping the insects in insecticide spray did not kill them. In fact, spray-dipped bugs laid eggs with viable young. He is studying nonchemical options, like steam and heat, for eradicating them.
For more information about bed bugs, go online to http://www.cfans.umn.edu/Solutions/Spring_2010/Sleep_Tight/index.htm and http://www.ca.uky.edu/entomology/entfacts/entfactpdf/ef636.pdf.
Last Updated 08/17/2010