Bed bugs were almost completely eliminated in the United State more than forty years ago through the use of insecticides such as DDT. Even before DDT was banned in the us, bed bugs were becoming resistant.  Over the past decade, Minnesota like many states has seen an increase in bed bugs and infestations have become more widespread due to travel.  

The bed bug is a small insect that feeds on humans and animals at rest.  Adult bed bugs are flat, oval, reddish-brown, wingless and about the size of an apple seed.  Under normal circumstances an adult bed bug can live for 4 months and up to a year or more under favorable conditions, during this time laying up to 250 eggs which resemble tiny grains of white rice. Bed bugs survive by feeding on blood meal from humans, but can survive without feeding for days to months.  Bed bugs do not transmit disease to humans, but bites can be annoying, causing irritation including redness, swelling and itching.  Some people may not react; therefore, not even know they have been bitten or have an infestation in their home.  While bed bugs are not known to transmit disease, they are the cause of property loss, expense and inconvenience.   

To keep bed bugs from coming home with you after you return home from vacation, store luggage on hard surface or luggage rack and avoid spreading your clothing around the room.  Inspect your luggage and personal items before packing and when you unpack.  Bed bugs do not travel on people, but they may hitch a ride on clothing.  When returning home, launder clothing on hottest setting or place items in a plastic bag until the items can be laundered.  

Bed bugs spend a majority of their lives in hiding, which makes controlling bed bugs very difficult.  Bed bugs are typically active at night and generally hide during the day.  If you are concerned you may have a beg bug infestation, look where you sleep.  Bed bugs typically group together in dark, out-of- the- way areas.  The best places to check for infestation is near the tufts and folds on mattresses and box springs, headboards, furniture drawers, behind items on the walls, crack in the floor or edge of the carpet.  Signs bed bugs may be present include dark reddish or brownish spots or smears on sheets, bedding or mattress.   If you suspect you may have an infestation, do not try to treat the bed bugs.  Locate a pest control service who can best evaluate control options.   

For more information regarding bed bugs, check out the University of Minnesota Bed Bug website:  www.bedbugs.umn.edu

Audrey Staggemeyer

Health Educator | Houston County Public Health

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