Another Warning of Secondhand Items

Bed bugs can be anywhere.  This story proves that.  We like sharing stories like this to simply make people aware of how easy it could be to be in a situation like this.  It is not meant to scare people; just to remind you to only go to businesses you trust and know well for goods and services.  The likelihood of something like this happening to you is rare, but this story is still an interesting read.  Check it out below:

A Man Says A Shirt He Rented Wound Up Being Totally Infested With Bed Bugs

Health | August 29, 2016 | By Korin Miller

But experts say this is pretty rare. Here, they explain what you need to know—and how to minimize the already small risk that this could happen to you.

File this under “terrifying”: A man is suing Men’s Wearhouse because he allegedly got bed bugs from a shirt he rented from the company. Anthony Elam of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania says he rented the shirt for his wedding two years ago, noticed it was infested with the blood-sucking parasites after he put it on but wore it anyway—and they “tormented” him during and after the ceremony, according to TMZ.

Elam says he suffered from bites, infection, injuries to his ligaments and blood vessels, and permanent shock to his nervous system, among other issues (which, to be fair, were probably exacerbated by the length of time he wore the shirt).
It’s freaky to think that you can get bed bugs from clothes you rent, but it can happen—and experts say it can also happen with the clothes you buy. “Bed bugs are skilled hitchhikers and are primarily transported on clothing and human’s belongings,” Tom Jeffords, technical specialist at Terminix, tells SELF. “They can easily hide along seams and hems and catch a ride from one customer’s home into a clothing store or retailer. If you pick up the item they happened to be clinging to, your house may become their new home.”

That sounds scary, but it’s important to note that encountering the bugs because of clothing you rent or buy isn’t common. Michael Potter, Ph.D., a professor of entomology at University of Kentucky, tells SELF that this is “rare at clothing stores,” but he also says it is technically possible. For example, several clothing stores in New York City temporarily closed in 2010 after they were infested with bed bugs.

With brand new clothes, the danger is usually from people who return things, bed bug expert Jeffrey White, technical director for BedBug Central, tells SELF. “It’s unlikely that someone would transfer bed bugs to brand new clothes in the store, but it’s a possibility if someone brought clothes home to a place that was infested and then returned them.” While White says some stores clean or throw out returned clothes before placing them back on shelves (which would usually then get rid of the bed bug risk), many don’t.

Buying something from a street vendor or at a thrift store increases the likelihood of bed bugs because the clothes often aren’t cleaned properly before you buy them, he says. But in general, the chances are still pretty low. The risk is probably even less with rented clothes since companies usually dry clean them between customers. “Dry cleaning would kill bed bugs,” White says. “There shouldn’t be a huge risk unless they’re not cleaning between rentals.”

Even if bed bugs did end up in a store, they likely wouldn’t last for long, Ron Harrison, Ph.D., Orkin entomologist, tells SELF. “A clothing store is not an ideal setting for bed bugs because no one is sleeping in the store, and bed bugs normally feed on blood while people are sleeping at night,” he explains. So, keeping your eyes peeled for bed bugs every time you go shopping definitely isn’t necessary. (If you did want to look out for signs of a bed bug infestation, these are the most common ones, per Jeffords: Small brown blood spots, small translucent eggs, or the critters themselves, which are oval-shaped, brown, and about a quarter-inch in size—similar to an appleseed.)

If you’re still nervous, experts say there’s a simple solution: Put clothes in the dryer for 10 to 15 minutes after you buy them. “It will kill everything,” Potter says. You can wash them as well, but Potter says you really only need heat from the dryer to get the job done.

Overall, experts say your risk is greater with used couches and beds than new clothes. “People shouldn’t freak out,” Potter says. “This can happen, but it’s rare.”


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“Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite”

No one wants to be bitten or stung by any kind of insect, but bed bugs have to be some of the most feared.  Not because of the bite itself, but because of what it means about the space you are in.  If you have been bitten by what you think is a bed bug there are ways you can treat the bites.  This article below offers a lot of simple tips as well as how long the bites last, and why the insects bite in the first place.

How to Treat a Bed Bug Rash

How Does an Individual Get a Bed Bug Bite Rash?

Bed bugs commonly infest summer cabins, especially at camps, hiking trail shelters and parks. Many times, when they are found in an urban home they can be traced back to a visit to one of these facilities.

These parasites are attracted to warmth, which is why they bite us as we sleep. They are also attracted to carbon dioxide, which is what is exhaled by oxygen breathing species.

They reside in dark areas and crevices near the host. Their only food is the blood they obtain from the host. Hosts for this bug are many different species of vertebrates including canaries, poultry, guinea pigs, cats, dogs, mice, bats and unfortunately, man.

How They Feed

These bugs feed on the host while the host sleeps, generally just before dawn. They will usually not be seen during the daylight hours unless the infestation is severe.

This bug will secure itself to the host’s skin using its claws and then inserts it ‘beak’ into the skin of the host. The ‘beak’ consists of two tubes (stylets); one sucks up the host’s blood while the other injects saliva (venom) in the wound.

This saliva assists in preventing the host’s blood from coagulating to keep it flowing. It also has an anesthetic to numb the feeding area on the host. This saliva is what causes the itching sensation on the host’s skin.

Feeding Based on Age

Nymphs (adolescents) feed for approximately three minutes while an adult may continue to feed on the blood of the host for ten to fifteen minutes.

nymph skin

Amazingly, they can survive 18 months without any oxygen and as much as a year without any blood. The bites cause burning, itching and swelling. The degree of symptoms depends upon the host’s susceptibility.

How Common are These Rashes?

The National Pest Management Association has stated that prior to the year 2000, as few as 25% of the pest control companies in the United States had encountered an infestation of these nasty bugs. Currently that number has risen to 95%.

At this point in time 76% of the United States pest control professionals think that this bug is the most difficult pest to eradicate.

Companies that previously received one or two calls per year are now reporting that they receive one or two calls weekly.

Why has the Infestation Returned?

There are various factors that are contributing to the resurgence in the United States. Citizens are frequently traveling to foreign areas that are infested.

Second-hand furniture and furnishings have become extremely popular. Populations have increased their resistance to the various pesticides. Control has been neglected by the pest control industry since the ‘40s.

What Does a Typical Bite Rash Look Like?

When these bugs bite an individual, they can develop a rash. These rashes have the ability to cause an extremely irritating itching sensation. The actual rash is not considered to be detrimental to one’s health.

bed bug rash

Many times a rash is mistaken for bites that are caused by insects commonly found in a household. These insects include fleas, lice, ants and mosquitoes. The truth is that the majority of individuals are not aware they have been fed on by these parasites. Many times, they assume the rash is just a skin allergy.

However, once you are aware of what to look for, it is very easily recognizable.

One of the first signs is numerous tiny or raised skin bumps. These bumps will always be in a row or cl ustered pattern. This is because they generally feed more than one time at the same location.

Other Signs to Watch Out For

The next sign is that the bites will occur nightly while sleeping and the rashes will increase daily. These rashes will usually be located on the legs, arms, neck, face and back, which are the most common areas. The reason these places are the most common sites is because these areas are usually exposed during the night. Exposed areas of the host are what they prefer.

For a lot of individuals these tiny red bumps will generally manifest hours or even days after the bite. These bumps will then begin to itch. If these bumps are scratched, the area may become inflamed because of a severe infection.

The bites or welts are misdiagnosed by many dermatologists as bites from fleas or even scabies. Only around half of the populace notices the very first bite and makes the correlation to these bloodsucking bugs.

Many reactions to bites are delayed for approximately ten days. People over the age of 65 either react less or are not usually bitten. In one survey, 42% of individuals over 65 years reported no bites or reactions even though there was an ongoing presence.


These bugs are very shy and cautious. During the night, they are attracted to the odors and warmth of the closest human being. Believe it or not, they are able to feed for ten minutes or longer non-stop!

One will consume as much as six times its body weight in blood. However, usually the individual is unaware that they are being bitten. Once they have completed feeding, they look extremely bloated and have even been characterized as animated blood drops.

Not only can bites create a rash or welts, they also have the ability to spread disease organisms that bring on digestive and nervous disorders. Allergic reactions, particularly in more sensitive individuals can occur. The have been known to carry contributory agents for plague, anthrax, tularemia, typhus, relapsing fever and yellow fever.

They have been known to CARRY these diseases; at this point in time, there is NO PROOF that they actually TRANSMIT them. Children residing in homes that are extremely bug-ridden tend to become pale and listless.

How Long Does a Bite Rash Last?

Usually, the rash will appear several hours after the actual bite has occurred. In some cases, however, the rash may not appear for days. The appearance of the rash is dependent upon the individual’s allergic reaction to the bites. For the most part, the rash will last just a few days and then begins to fade slowly.

Unfortunately, the bite rash does have the ability to last a lot longer if the individual has a more intense allergic reaction to the bites. Some individuals will not have any reaction whatsoever, while others who have more sensitivity to allergies may develop rashes that cause extreme itching as they are continuously bitten nightly.

Many times medical attention will be necessary for these individuals to eliminate the rash completely.

How Can a Bite Rash be Treated?

The swelling and redness that is associated with a bite rash does not clear very easily. However, the itching and discomfort can easily be treated with several remedies including natural remedies and medications.

Oral antihistamines and steroid creams can be used in treatment regime. These medications will help to ease the itching that is associated with the rash.

It is important to remember not to scratch the bites. Scratching the bites ONLY MAKES THEM ITCH MORE and does have the ability to cause a secondary skin infection.

Names of Medications Used for the Treatment


There are topical steroid creams that are applied directly to the affected area to eliminate the itching sensation. One of these creams is hydrocortisone. Hydrocortisone is available with or without a prescription. The lower strength creams may be purchased over-the-counter.

However, if the low dose cream does not work, you may need to obtain a prescription from your physician to purchase a stronger dose.

Creams Containing Dephendrydramine & Pramoxine

The optimal creams contain a mixture of pramoxine to assist with the tenderness and pain and diphendrydramine to eliminate the itching associated with the rash.

Creams & Lotions Containing Benzyl Alcohol

Lotions and creams containing benzyl alcohol may also be used to treat both the symptoms of itching and pain. These lotions and creams can be extremely effective in eliminating the itch to resolve the bite rash rather quickly.

Calamine Lotion

The use of Calamine Lotion will assist in protecting the skin while it heals. It also speeds the drying of the rash, which facilitates a quicker healing process.


If the individual is NOT allergic to aspirin, a cotton ball can be dipped into an Alka-Seltzer solution and then rubbed onto the bite rash to assist in clearing it up quicker.


Oral steroids are also useful in treating the itching. One of these steroids is called Prednisone and a prescription must be obtained from a physician to purchase this product. It is not an over-the counter medication.


Oral antihistamines can be very effective in relieving the itching sensation. One of these antihistamines is called Benadryl; however, these medications tend to cause drowsiness.

Therefore, this kind of medication is better used prior to retiring. It is not necessary to obtain a prescription from a doctor to purchase this medication. It is an over-the-counter product available at your local pharmacy.

Zyrtec & Claritin

There are some oral antihistamines that may be taken during the daytime and are not prone to cause drowsiness. A couple of these medications are Claritin and Zyrtec. It is not necessary to obtain a prescription for these medications either. Both are available over-the-counter at your local pharmacy.

Oral Antibiotic or an Antibiotic Ointment

If a bacterial infection occurs on the skin, a health-care provider/physician may prescribe an oral antibiotic or antibiotic ointment to treat the skin infection.

Corticosteroids, Antihistamines or Epinephrine Injections

Should an individual be suffering with a systemic allergic reaction, a physician can administer antihistamines, corticosteroids or epinephrine to the individual. *It is important to note that this condition is extremely rare.

Natural Remedies to Consider

Apply lukewarm water above 120°F or 50°C to the area that has been bitten as soon as possible. This has been known to relieve some of the symptoms.

Just by washing the rash regularly with the use of antibacterial soap helps to keep the bacteria from growing on the rash and causing an infection.

Applying a mixture of baking soda and salt to the affected areas will help to relieve inflammation.

Soaking in a lukewarm bath after adding powdered oatmeal will provide some relief from the itching sensation and reduce inflammation. A paste can be made out of the powdered oatmeal and applied to the areas affected.

A paste can be made from water and baking soda. Rub this paste on the area infected with the rash. Let the paste dry and then peel it off. This should help relieve some of the itching.

Lemon juice or Witch Hazel may be applied directly on the bites.

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Avoiding These Pests

 If you are worried you will be somewhere or in a situation where you could pick up bed bugs then this article will be useful.  It goes through ten tips to help you avoid bed bugs if you sense they could be present.  Prevention is always helpful for those who are worried, but if bed bugs have already entered your home or business call us!

10 Tips to Avoid Bedbugs


Bedbugs – creepy and persistent saboteurs of sleep. It is no wonder these parasitic insects have caused such a stir in the news. Their resilience can make them unwelcome house guests indefinitely. And now they’re invading more than just houses and hotels; latching on to furniture, suitcases, or any number of comfortable surfaces, they’ve started moving into airplanes, schools, movie theaters, hospitals, and more.

But panic isn’t – as it rarely is – the answer. Bedbugs aren’t known to carry diseases like other vermin. And while they can be a painful nuisance and costly to exterminate, they are not life-threatening.

Their survival techniques are clever. When bedbugs bite, they inject “a sort of anesthetizing agent, which allows the bite to be painless,” explains Michael Potter, an entomologist specializing in pest management, to an NPR reporter. “That’s a good survival mechanism because if you woke up and felt the pain, not too many bedbugs would survive to feed another day.” Painless at first, bites from bedbugs can become red and itchy welts.

After bedbugs bite, they can hide in a number of out-of-sight places including behind loose wallpaper, electrical switch plates, seams of mattresses and other upholstery.

1. When sleeping in a new bed, check for signs of their feces: small, black or dark brown dots on sheets or the mattress. (If you are in a hotel and find potential bedbug fecal matter, ask for a new room far from the original.)

2. While bedbugs mostly hide out during the day, you may be able to spot the actual bug at night (using a flashlight may be helpful). Baby bedbugs are nearly invisible, but their older relatives are brown to red-brown and oval-shaped (see image on page one).

3. Regularly inspect places where pets sleep for signs of bedbugs.

4. In some heavily infested areas, a “coriander-like” odor may be present.

5. If you suspect you’ve been exposed to bedbugs when traveling, clean out everything you traveled with. Vacuum out your suitcase and wash all clothes in hot water if possible, whether they are dirty or not. When traveling, leave your suitcases on hard surfaces if possible (rather than carpet or upholstered furniture).

6. If you suspect there are bedbugs in your home, do not jump directly to pesticide application. Many pesticides, especially over-the-counter treatments, are ineffective in killing bedbugs and their eggs, and only provide unnecessary chemicals in your living space. Professional steam or heat treatments kill eggs and adults (more information on next page).

7. Make sure it is indeed bedbugs that are causing your bites before treating the problem. Fleas, ticks, mites, mosquitoes, or allergic reactions may be the cause of the skin lesions. IdentifyUS suggests a variety of trapping methods you can use to find and identify a bedbug.

8. If you cannot find a bedbug, but suspect they are present, a “bedbug-sniffing dog” may help sniff-out the culprits.

9. Do not put infested furniture on the street or in common areas, as that may spread the problem to other homes. If you do move infested furniture out of your house, place in a locked dumpster and label it as bedbug-infested. If you have infested furniture that is useful, you do not need to dispose of it; it can be cleaned and treated.

10. Clear your clutter. “The most vulnerable people for pests are people who have a lot of clutter,” this Networx article advises. Having a non-cluttered home also makes treatment easier, as there are less objects to clean.

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Bed Bugs at Thrift Shops?

Thrift shopping has become more popular in the past few years.  You can find some amazing items for a fraction of the price they were originally given.  However, there is always caution to be had when buying secondhand items because you do not necessarily know where they were or who owned them before.  With that said, there are items that bed bugs can easily hide in.  Read this short article about four particular secondhand items that bed bugs love.

Four Secondhand Items That Could Harbor Bed Bugs

If these items came from a bed bug-infested home, you could get more than you bargained for.

09/15/2016 12:15 pm ET | Updated 3 days ago

By: Jennifer Mitchell

table lamp on bedroom

Shopping for secondhand items helps you furnish your home inexpensively, but if these items came from a bed bug-infested home, you could get more than you bargained for. While you probably already know that a secondhand mattress could be infested with bed bugs, you may not know that many other items can also be a hiding place for bed bugs. Here are four secondhand items that you didn’t know could harbor bed bugs.


Paintings, framed photographs and other pieces of artwork can contain bed bugs, so be sure to inspect them carefully before you buy them. This may seem unbelievable, but since bed bugs can fit into a gap as small as the thickness of a credit card, it’s easy for them to get underneath backing paper or inside a frame

Before you buy any artwork, take it out of the frame to make sure that no bed bugs are lurking inside. Pay extra attention to cracks and seams in the frame since bed bugs could hide in these areas. Check the backs of paintings to make sure that the backing paper isn’t torn or loose, and if it is, peek underneath and look for bed bugs.


Secondhand lamps can also introduce bed bugs to your home. When someone has a bed bug infestation, the bugs don’t just remain in their bed; they also infest nearby items in the room before spreading to the rest of the house. You have no way of knowing if the lamp came from a bed bug infested bedroom, so you need to inspect it closely.

Lampshades provide a great place for bed bugs to hide, especially if they’re made of fabric. Fabric lampshades have seams that bed bugs can crawl inside, and any pleats or wrinkles in the fabric also provide a hiding place. Bed bugs can also hide around the cord of the lamp or inside screwholes on the base of the lamp, so be sure to inspect these areas closely.


High-end curtains can cost as much as $1,500 per panel when you buy them new, so buying your curtains from a secondhand store is a frugal choice. However, curtains are yet another place where bed bugs could be hiding. When a home is heavily infested with bed bugs, there isn’t enough room around the bed for all of the bugs, and they need to move to nearby areas like the curtains.

Before you buy secondhand curtains, take them out of the packaging and inspect every inch of the fabric. Check the seams of the curtains as well as the pleats of the fabric for the presence of bed bugs. Bed bug eggs are tiny (1 mm) and white, while adult bed bugs look similar to apple seeds.


Surprisingly, bed bugs can even hitchhike in electronics! Electronic items like computers and televisions need to be inspected before they’re purchased secondhand. While it may seem strange that bed bugs would want to live in a television, remember that they like to hide in out-of-place areas that are close to the sleeping people they want to feed on. The ports on the back of a television or computer are a cozy place for bed bugs to hide.

Before you buy any secondhand electronics, inspect all of the ports with a flashlight and a magnifying glass. Check underneath the keys of keyboards and inside the battery compartments of remote controls, as well.

Mattresses aren’t the only secondhand items that could be harboring bed bugs, so be sure to carefully inspect every used item you want to bring home.

This post previously appeared at Pests in the Home.


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