If you itch just thinking about bedbugs, here’s something to help you sleep at night: These blood-suckers – which don’t carry disease as mosquitoes and ticks do – can’t fly or jump onto your head or clothes.
They crawl. So, if you’re paying attention, you will see them coming. And if you’re vigilant when you return home from out-of-town trips, you won’t accidentally import them into your house.
“They don’t move real fast, but they are relentless,” said Jeffrey Weier, an entomologist who has been in pest control for nearly 40 years.
Several local pest control companies say their bedbug calls have spiked this year.
Weier, a Seattle-based employee of Sprague Pest Solutions, Weier said bedbugs (reddish brown, flat and about the size of an apple seed) are nocturnal. They feed, then retreat within about five minutes to a dark wall, floor cracks and other hiding places inside beds and furniture.
They hitchhike in bags and on other items, or in used furniture.
If you think you’ve been exposed, Weier recommends washing your clothes, backpacks, shoes, etc., in hot water and soap; to be sure, you can also run them through the dryer for 20 minutes on the hottest setting. Get used furniture fumigated or treated in a heat chamber.
Weier said many people live with low-level infestations that they don’t even notice. Not everyone has the same reaction to the bites – some get welts, others just itch.
Some renters don’t report the bugs to landlords for fear of getting in trouble. Then they meet someone special.
“They say, ‘My girlfriend is going to leave if you don’t come,'” said Salli Lawrence, also a Sprague employee.
Sprague conducts a home inspection and charges depending on size. Pest control companies freeze bedbugs in cracks; they kill widespread infestations with intense heat.
But sometimes those whose homes have been cleared of the pests can’t shake the sensation of creepy crawlies on their legs.
“It’s the psychology of invading your most private space – your bed at night,” Weier said.
By Katy Moeller