Places bed bugs can hide

Going to library to check out your favorite book? You could be checking out your worst nightmare…a bed bug infestation. Bed bugs have found a new way to get into homes and that is though books checked out in public libraries. They hide as unassuming stowaways on your favorite novels and get into your bed when you lay down to do some reading. Because they are so small, they often go unnoticed. This allows the infestation to grow. Be vigilante and be sure to check anything that goes in and out of your home to prevent infestation.

READING in bed, once considered a relatively safe pastime, is now seen by some as a riskier proposition.

That’s because bedbugs have discovered a new way to hitchhike in and out of beds: library books. It turns out that tiny bedbugs and their eggs can hide in the spines of hardcover books. The bugs crawl out at night to feed, find a new home in a headboard, and soon readers are enjoying not only plot twists but post-bite welts.

As libraries are scrambling to deal with the problem, so are some book borrowers. Not wanting to spread the misery, considerate patrons sometimes call ahead to discuss with librarians how best to return lent materials from their bedbug-infested homes. Usually, a meeting is arranged so the patron can hand off the offending books or DVDs in Ziploc bags to an employee outside the library.

John Furman, the owner of Boot-a-Pest, a team of bedbug exterminators based on Long Island, said he has had hundreds of clients buy a portable heater called PackTite to kill bedbug life, baking any used or borrowed book as a preventive measure before taking it to bed.

Mark Lillis of Schendel Pest Services examines quarantined crates filled with library books in Wichita, Kan. Credit Steve Hebert for The New York Times
But others have stopped borrowing books altogether. Each month, Angelica McAdoo, a jewelry designer, and her children used to bring home a stack of books from the Los Angeles Central Library — until Mrs. McAdoo heard that the library had had a bedbug scare in September. She had already battled bedbugs in her two-bedroom apartment in East Hollywood and hired an exterminator, who sprayed the perimeter of her bookshelves with pesticide, among other precautions.

For now, she is buying books at Target and is ambivalent about borrowing library books again. “I will not step foot in a library ever again — right now,” she said.

To reassure skittish patrons like Mrs. McAdoo, libraries are training circulation staff members to look for carcasses and live insects. Some employees treat suspect books with heat before re-shelving them, to kill bedbugs, which are about the size of an apple seed when fully grown. Others vacuum the crevices of couches, and some furniture is being reupholstered with vinyl or leatherette to make it less hospitable to insects.

As Michael Potter, a professor of entomology at University of Kentucky in Lexington, noted: “There’s no question in past few years there are more and more reports of bedbugs showing up in libraries.”

Pest-control experts say the bugs are increasingly moving from homes, dorms and other lodging to settings like retail stores, offices and libraries, migrating not only in book spines, but also on patrons or their belongings.

And some librarians are not only confronting the public relations challenges in their communities, but trying to get ahead of the problem rather than hiding its existence.

Read more at: http://nyti.ms/1NyjG7d

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Why are bed bugs on the rise?

Although bed bugs have been around for quite some time, there is a huge resurgence of these pesky creatures and many are wondering why. The answer is very simple but there are a lot of factors that play into it. Since humans are traveling at much higher rates and are living closer together in metropolitan places, bed bugs are able to infest more places through luggage and human hosts and go from one shared living space to another with ease.

Brooke Borel was a young science reporter when her Brooklyn apartment became infested with bedbugs. Three times. The experience showed her how much bedbugs can turn people’s lives upside down, and how hard they are to get rid of.

For her new book, Infested: How the Bed Bug Infiltrated Our Bedrooms and Took Over the World, she set off on a journey of discovery to find out everything she could about this vicious little critter that has plagued humanity since before we even had beds.

Talking from her (de-infested) apartment in New York, she explains the origins of the bedbug in bat-infested caves and why they’re on the rise today, pulls the curtain back on bedbug sex, and offers practical advice for those unlucky enough to become infested.

Picture of the cover of Infested by Brooke Borel
COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS 

Cimex lectulariusaka the bedbug, is one of the most repulsive critters on Earth. What attracted a nice girl like you to it?

Well, I had bedbugs in New York three times, starting in 2004. I’m a science reporter, and the second and third time, I became really interested in them and started writing short news articles about them. Reporting those, I realized there was an opportunity for a larger project because of the stories I was hearing from entomologists.

What attracts them to us?

They’re attracted to the CO2 in our breath and the heat of our bodies. Other blood feeders like the mosquito are attracted to some of the other hundreds of chemicals we emit, so it may be that they’re also detecting those. Bedbugs only eat blood, so they need us not to breed but to live.

These things are not just painful—they’re almost impossible to get rid of, aren’t they? Tell us about some of the extraordinary measures that people use.

If you’re following the instructions from a pest control operator, it still is a difficult process to go through. You have to take all of your laundry and bedding to the Laundromat and wash and dry it at high temperatures. You will also probably have to use insecticide sprays, although those are working less and less because the bedbugs have built resistance to many that we’re able to use in our bedrooms.

Devastating effects of bed bugs

Most people don’t realize that bed bugs are so completely harmful. Not only do they cause anxiety, often property damage, can damage reputations if mismanaged, but there are people who are allergic to their bites. This can cause huge health problems for individuals that are allergic to bed bug bites. Read more below.

Want another reason to fear bed bugs? They can sometimes set off allergic reactions, asthma attacks and anaphylaxis according to allergists at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) in Phoenix, Nov 11-16.

Most individuals bitten by bed bugs get red bite marks that are mildly itchy. But those who are allergic can experience intense itching, swelling, redness, hives and blisters. The bugs can trigger asthma if a large group of them become airborne. And, although rare, those who are highly allergic to the bites may experience anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction that can cause trouble breathing, hives or swelling or tightness of the throat

The source of the reaction often goes undetected because symptoms can be written off as flea or horse fly bites, said allergist Richard deShazo, MD, of the ACAAI Insect Hypersensitivity Committee. If you have allergies or asthma and you don t know the cause of your skin irritation, see your allergist.

Those allergic to bed bug bites notice their bites become increasingly itchy. Scratching them can lead to infection. Allergists treat the bites with antihistamines and corticosteroid creams. Allergists are specially trained to treat asthma and can help patients who are having asthma flare ups due to bed bugs.

Allergists attending the ACAAI meeting will attend a workshop to better familiarize themselves with the growing epidemic of bed bugs, best diagnostic approaches, and approaches to insect extermination. Allergists receive training in reactions to insects, including wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, fire ants, stinging flies, bed bugs, and others as a part of their clinical training and are an excellent resource for patients who think they may have insect reactions.

Read more at: http://acaai.org/news/allergic-bed-bugs