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They're not just in beds but travel wherever people do

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February 20, 2012

The Maui News

Bedbugs are not only found in beds these days. They're being seen in shopping malls, libraries, movie theaters and taxis, said those who keep an eye on such critters.

According to the state Department of Health, the bugs are making a resurgence because there has been a decrease in the use of broad-spectrum pesticides that keep the pests in check and the increase and speed at which humans can travel, bringing along the pests as hitchhikers on or in luggage, boxes, clothes or furniture.

To prevent a bedbug infestation, the Health Department recommends:

* Inspecting luggage inside and out and vacuuming it before storing.

* Laundering clothing when returning from a trip.

* Clean purchased used furniture thoroughly before putting it in a home.

* Inspect cracks, crevices, bed frames and under dresser drawers or anywhere out of the light.

* Inspect the seams of mattresses and box springs.

Since the insects do not fly or jump, one can use a strong vacuum to remove them and afterward use a stiff brush to dislodge any eggs. Cleaning with a strong detergent is recommended.

High temperatures of more than 114 degrees Fahrenheit will kill the bugs. Small items infested with the bugs can be wrapped in dark plastic and placed in the sun for four to eight hours. This should kill the bugs, provided the temperature in the package is more than 114 degrees.

Commercial insecticides also are available and so are exterminators.

Bedbugs are wingless insects measuring about 3/8ths of an inch. Appearing oval and flattened, they can be seen by the naked eye.

When young, the insects are as small as a pinhead and almost invisible, said Michael Botha, president of Sandwich Isle Pest Solutions.

They can hide in cracks, and it's hard to see the eggs, he added.

There is no chemical in the United States that is effective in preventing bedbugs, he said, noting the bugs have developed a resistance to many chemicals.

The males and females feed only on the blood from mammals and birds, the Health Department said. The female adult needs a blood meal to produce eggs. During a life span of as much as 18 months, a female bedbug can produce 200 to 500 eggs.

Bedbugs are nocturnal but may feed during the day in areas with reduced lighting, such as theaters.

Even though the bugs feed on humans, they are not known to carry any diseases that sicken humans. Their bites on human skin produce raised, itchy welts at the bite site and more intense itching the next day.

© Copyright 2012 The Maui News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Tags: Bed Bugs  |  Michael Botha  |  Sandwich Isle Pest Solutions

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