No one wants bed bugs. Unfortunately, that doesn’t prevent some of us from dealing with them on occasion. In many cases, bed bug problems start with just one intruder. Perhaps this drifter smuggled in on luggage you took on a trip, or in a beautiful antique chest you thrifted. Well, don’t stop thrifting just yet—these situations are rare! But, just in case, let’s review some tips to help you avoid taking an unwanted guest home with you while you are out and about. Read on to find out more about keeping bed bugs out of your personal space.
KNOW YOUR ENEMY
The first step in combating a bed bug problem is knowing as much as you can about them. In the case of bed bugs, this includes being able to identify what they look like, signs of their activity, and where you’re most likely to find them. It can’t hurt to also understand a little about how they behave. Let’s review some of these things right off the bat.
Bed bugs are hematophagous, meaning, they have to consume blood to survive, and they love human blood. Like mosquitoes, they use a needle-like mouthpart to pierce human skin. After a bed bug feeds, you may be left with a welt similar in appearance to a mosquito bite. In severe cases, hives, wheals, or blisters can result. However, many people do not react to bed bug bites at all. For that reason, bites alone are not a reliable sign of a bed bug problem. Unlike lice and ticks, bed bugs do not remain on the host very long when they feed, so you’re unlikely to find them on your skin or in your hair.
Bed bugs like to be packed in tight, and they can easily hide in crevices as thin as one sheet of paper. Thus, visual inspections for bed bugs must be thorough. Sometimes, instead of looking for a live bug, it can be easier to look for signs of their activity (to start). For instance, look for fecal spots or shed skins, which are often left out in the open and can be easier to find. Look for these signs of activity near where you sleep. In introductory infestations, that is the most likely place to catch bed bugs. However, do not be confident that you have an active infestation until you have located live insects.
TIPS TO KEEP BED BUGS AWAY
Now that you know what to look for, let’s also go over a few things you can try to keep bed bugs from coming home with you after a trip, when perusing used goods, or when you think you’ve walked into an infested area/dwelling.
To avoid bringing bed bugs into your home after travel, consider isolating fabrics by bringing some plastic bags. Pack luggage loosely, neatly, and keep items out and easy to see. If you think some of your fabrics have come into contact with bed bugs, double bag them in plastic and tie a tight knot. (Image Credit: https://pxhere.com/en/photo/1356828)
WHAT IF I FIND BED BUGS DURING TRAVEL?
The thought of picking up bed bugs is scary. However, if all of the above steps are followed, it is very possible to avoid taking bed bugs home with you and dealing with an at-home infestation. It is always probable that you could take a bug home with you just by being out and about, but taking precautions help you lower that probability significantly. Now, sleep tight, and don’t let the bed bugs bite!
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