Bed bugs on the rise
Health officials say bed bug infestations are on the rise in Louisiana.
Bed bugs are small insects that feed mainly on human blood, according to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH). A newly hatched bed bug is semi-transparent, light tan in color, and the size of a poppy seed. Adult bed bugs are flat, have rusty-red-colored oval bodies, and are about the size of an apple seed.
Bloodstains, droppings and eggs can be found in several locations, including mattress seams and tufts, sheets, pillowcases and upholstered furniture. They can also be found in crevices and cracks in furniture and in baseboards of walls.
Bed bugs are most active when we sleep. They crawl onto exposed skin, inject a mild anesthetic and suck up a small amount of blood. Most people never feel the actual bite.
Bed bugs need a blood meal to grow and lay eggs. A female lays 5-7 eggs per week and if fed, will lay 200-500 eggs in her life. Eggs take about 10 days to hatch. Bed bugs are fully-grown in 2 to 4 months and can live as long as a year.
Bed bugs can enter homes by latching onto used furniture, luggage and clothing, and by traveling along connecting pipes and wiring. According DHH, the following are steps that can be taken to prevent bed bugs from infesting your home:
• Never bring bed frames, mattresses, box springs or upholstered furniture found on the street into your home.
• Check all used or rented furniture for bed bugs.
• When traveling, inspect the bed and furniture. Keep suitcases off the floor and bed, and inspect them before you leave.
• If you suspect you have been around bed bugs, immediately wash and dry the clothing on hot setting or store it in a sealed plastic bag until you can.
• Seal cracks and crevices with caulk, even if you don’t have bed bugs. This will help prevent bed bugs and other pests from coming in.
Look for bed bugs, bloodstains, droppings and eggs (a flashlight and a magnifying glass will help). Start by looking in an area 10-20 feet around where you sleep or sit. That’s the distance a bed bug will usually travel. Keep a written record of every room and location where you find signs of bed bugs. Share this record with a pest control professional.
Everyone should learn how to identify bed bugs and inspect for them. If you have bed bugs, you shouldn’t feel ashamed because anyone can get them. Just be sure to notify your landlord and neighbors. The sooner everyone responds, the more successful everyone will be.
For additional information about preventing bed bugs, visit DHH’s website at http://new.dhh.louisiana.gov.
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