Here’s a little something to make your skin crawl: Colorado Springs ranked 25th on Orkin’s list of the top 50 bedbug cities in the U.S. for 2011. That’s up 19 spots from 2010 — not exactly something you want on your tourist brochures. (If it makes you feel better, Denver was No. 4.)
And no matter how clean you keep your place, don’t think you can’t get them. Bedbugs can be found everywhere, from the dumpiest apartment to the poshest hotel, and even in public places.
“We’re finding it’s widespread, where people dwell and even where they work now,” said Joe Rose, local manager for Orkin. “We’re seeing it expand to offices, entertainment areas, places where people don’t necessarily live. They bring the bugs in with them. One of my officers was talking to a lady from social services, and she had a client she was interviewing in her office. She could see bedbugs crawling on that person. We’ve had to have police cars exterminated.”
Now that you’re grossed out, here are some bedbug facts:
• Adult bed bugs are about 1/4 inch long, the size of an apple seed, and are reddish brown, with oval, flattened bodies. They have five stages, and they have to feed on blood between each stage. The females can lay up to five eggs a day, depositing them in secluded areas. In their immature stages, they’re clear to milky white and very small. They also shed their skins and defecate after feeding — two things that can signal a bedbug visitor. Look for dark spotting or staining on mattresses and bedding.
• Bedbugs aren’t picky. They can live just about anywhere, and being a clean freak does not guarantee you won’t get them.
• Bedbugs like to hide near their meal, which is why you often find them around beds. But they easily spread to other areas, get into walls, and make their way to other rooms or apartments.
• Like werewolves and vampires, bedbugs do their dirty work at night. The pierce human skin with an elongated beak, then drink up for three to 10 minutes. But people rarely realize they’re being bitten, and not everyone has a reaction to the bites. Those who do tend to get itchy red welts or swelling. The bites can become infected, but the good news is, bedbugs do not transmit diseases.
• Treating a bedbug infestation takes time, work and patience. It requires professional treatment, often several times on a regular schedule. Heat treatment can kill bugs, but it may not get behind walls where the critters may be hiding. Frequent vacuuming and decluttering the floor are also recommended, because clutter gives the bugs a place to hide. Clothing and bedding needs to be heated to a minimum of 120 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes in a dryer. Or discard them.
• Encase mattresses in zippered encasements, and toss infested mattresses. Don’t move infested belongings to another dwelling. And avoid buying secondhand mattresses and couches. Mark “Dumpster Diving” off your list of activities.
• In addition to checking mattresses, look for the bugs in upholstered chairs and sofas. Empty nightstands and dressers to look inside, then tip them over to check the woodwork underneath. Bugs also hide in cracks, corners, and recesses, along baseboards, under the edge of wall-to-wall carpeting, behind picture frames, switch plates and outlets, and even inside clocks, phones, TVs and smoke detectors.
– Source: Orkin, Colorado State University Extension