Letter: Bedbugs: No longer just a creepy nursery rhyme

To the editor:

You may remember Grandma tucking you in with a version of “Night-night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite!” Well, it’s 2016 and never been more true.

Thought to be all but wiped out, bedbugs have made a huge comeback and are showing up throughout the area. Not only hotels, homes and apartments, but schools, banks, libraries, buses and offices are noticing these parasites (blood-suckers).

Why the comeback? Well, some of the reasons are increased travel (both nationally and globally), bans on some pesticides, and lack of public awareness that bedbugs even exist and how to properly identify them.

What do bedbugs look like? Adult bedbugs are a quarter-inch long, brownish in color and most closely resemble a tick in body shape.

Bedbugs do not have wings, so they can’t fly but are very adept crawlers and “hitchhikers.”

Although they feed exclusively on blood, bedbugs have yet to be implicated as disease transmitters. Actually, fleas, mosquitoes and ticks are far worse from a physical standpoint, but the mental anguish associated with bedbugs is tremendous and heart-wrenching.

Besides live insects, a few other things to look for are blood spots and/or black specks (fecal spots) on bedding or bed frames as well as couches, recliners or curtains. Bite symptoms can vary on individuals but tend to be clustered and in rows.

Why me? How could I have bedbugs? Bedbugs don’t just happen; they are introduced into homes or businesses in a variety of ways. Staying in an infested home or room, guests and visitors (Cousin Eddie) can bring them in, or purchasing anything used or secondhand. Certainly, do not pick up discarded furniture or mattresses from roadsides or Dumpsters. May sound obvious, but it happens every day.

What now? If you do find evidence of bedbugs or suspect them, here are some tips:

Don’t panic or be embarrassed. Even millionaires get bedbugs.

Don’t start throwing out furniture.

Don’t set off foggers (bombs).

Don’t scatter pesticide dusts or sprays all over floors or furniture, especially beds.

Don’t store items under the bed.

Do eliminate clutter. This is the No. 1 cause of treatment failure.

Do launder, in hot water, any bedding, clothes or curtains that may be infested.

Do vacuum the carpet, baseboard areas and furniture.

Do consider installing encasements on mattresses and box springs.

Do consult with a pest professional for a thorough evaluation. Bedbugs are one of the few insects you will need help with.

Researchers and scientists don’t expect bedbugs to go away anytime soon, and no one can guarantee they won’t show up where least expected.

However, through education and vigilance, we can teach people to minimize their opportunities. Something else Grandma used to say: “An ounce of prevention …”

Doug Foster, Burt’s Pest Control, Columbus