Bed bugs are coming to Region 8: what you need to know

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – You may think "don't let the bed bugs bite" is a saying from generations past.  With numerous cases popping up across the country experts say think again.   Bed bugs are becoming a big problem, including right here in Region 8.

They're being found mainly in hotel rooms across the country.  Anyone who travels, from business folks to soldiers are bringing them home.  In the next few weeks holiday travel will start.  Experts say there is a lot you need to know before you travel to make sure you take the bite out of bed bugs.

"It is becoming much more common even here in Jonesboro," said Entomologist Dr. Tanja McKay.

Your pillow, your sheets, your mattress may not be safe.

"They're hitchhikers and they're moving around," said McKay.

Your bed could be a breeding ground for bed bugs and you are dinner.

"They are here.  There's just a few minimal cases right now, but it's something as more people travel they will get spread from home to home," said Lance Winford with All American Pest Control.

"This is something that we're facing that's truly, truly coming," said Ken Winford of All American Pest Control.

Experts say they have always been a part of our lives.  Eighty years ago bed bugs were found in homes, hotels and movie theatres.

"It's just been in the last five to ten years that we're starting to see these bed bug resurgences come through," said McKay.

"You started getting calls for bed bugs even up to seven or eight years ago," said Lance Winford.

Father and son team Lance and Ken Winford run All American Pest Control and have found cases of bed bugs in Region 8 and say its just the beginning.

"It's something that most people won't detect at first.  They can bite you and some people show no irritations to them, some people it does affect," said Winford.

"People are constantly moving and these insects can travel with us from place to place," said McKay.

As you travel you can pick these creepy crawlers up in a hotel room.

"You can go to a hotel go into the bedroom and lay your luggage out.  The next thing you know you come home and they're in your luggage.  You sit your luggage down in the floor and they scatter throughout the house.  Next thing you know, your house is infested," said Winford.

"To avoid that you should check your hotel room before you hit the sack.

"Go over to the bed, strip back the sheets and look around the seams and around the edges of the mattress," said McKay.

Entomologist Dr. Tanja McKay said you're looking for little black specks left behind by the bugs.

"They're coming out at night and so during the daytime they're actually hiding behind the bed, behind the headboard, behind the walls, inside the walls, inside the mattresses," said McKay.

Experts like the Winford's check furniture, electric outlets, the floor and any possible hiding places.

"Anything that's on the floor that's left behind, if you have clothes or boxes of books, they will be hiding in the cracks and crevices even under furniture," said McKay.

A lot of us take advantage of that extra space under our beds to store out of season clothing or whatever will fit but that could be a great place for bed bugs to hide.

"You try to treat them yourself, it's hard enough for us to treat them, you try to treat them yourself and you scatter them throughout the house.  It just makes them that more difficult to control," said Winford.

If you do get a case of bed bugs, it's not the end of the world.  The bugs do not carry any diseases, but do carry the creep factor.

"Just the thought more than anything of these insects coming out at night and feeding on you while you're asleep," said Winford.

Experts say there are a lot of cases of bed bugs in third world countries.  Ken Winford tells Region 8 News our soldiers returning from combat can carry these bugs home too.  To avoid bringing them into your home anytime you travel unpack your bags in the bath tub and wash all of your clothes in hot water or put them in the dryer on high heat.  The heat will kill the bed bugs.  Another alternative that is recommended is to sit your luggage out in the front yard for 24 to 48 hours and the heat of the sun will kill the bugs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, bed bugs can cause problems with your physical and mental health and could impact you economically.

To help avoid becoming a victim of bed bugs the CDC suggests you seal up cracks and crevices in your home, treat your home with pesticides that are known to work, and periodically search your own home for the signs.

With the resurgence of bed bugs federal environmental officials recently created a pesticide database for people battling the bugs.  The Environmental Protection Agency said they will list all pesticides that are known to be effective against the bugs.

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