KINGMAN - Exterminators and homeowners in Mohave County and across the country are seeing a sharp resurgence in the population of bed bugs.
While they do not carry any diseases, they can become a nuisance very rapidly because of how quickly they reproduce and how difficult they are to eradicate.
In a CDC-EPA Joint Statement last year, experts "suspect the resurgence is associated with increased resistance of bed bugs to available pesticides, greater international and domestic travel, lack of knowledge regarding control of bed bugs due to their prolonged absence, and the continuing decline or elimination of effective vector/pest control programs at state and local public health agencies."
"It's a very common problem," said Lisa Ogden of Mohave Pest Control. "Any place can get them."
Bed bugs are parasitic insects that prefer to feed on human blood and can live in any place where they can hide and feed regularly. They don't exclusively live in unclean households and can be commonly found in places such as movie theatres and public buildings.
"It's very hard to talk about it because our customers are stores and retail customers," said Ogden.
Bed bugs are small, flat oval bugs that measure between 4 to 5 millimeters at adulthood.
Nymphs are about the size of a ballpoint tip, but are visible to the naked eye.
Their eggs look like grains of salt and often stick together.
Bed bug bites look like small, flat, or raised bumps on the skin. It is very easy to mistake bed bug bites for a rash or allergy.
They will often leave small bloodstains on your sheets and pillows when they draw blood.
Modern-day bed bugs are widespread and very resilient to prevention techniques of the past. They can also lay dormant for weeks without feeding.
While they are difficult to get rid of, prevention and vigilance can help in protecting your home from bed bugs.
Here are some bed bug prevention practices you can do:
Check your furniture, baseboards and cracks between walls. This is where they live when they are not feeding.
Vacuum often in places such as baseboards, in between furniture and inside couches.
Avoid buying used furniture or clothes without thoroughly inspecting them for bed bugs and eggs.
Do not pick up furniture left on the street.
Limit what you bring when visiting someone with bed bugs.
When staying in a hotel, store your luggage in the bathtub until you've inspected the room. Also be sure to use the luggage shelf to keep your bags off the ground.
In the event you find bed bugs in your home, calling an exterminator is your best option.
Their pesticides are designed to be rotated out so that the bed bugs don't develop a resistance, and a treatment plan over multiple visits is usually required to fully eradicate an infestation.
This process does require active involvement from homeowners as well.
Working with an exterminator, you can help eradicate them from your home by:
Not using chemicals and pesticides on your own. Bed bugs evolve and develop a resistance quickly, and most sprays found over the counter are only designed to kill on contact.
During treatment, wash your clothes in hot water and place them in a dryer for at least 20 minutes on high. The heat will kill bed bugs in clothing. Avoid going to the laundromat as you risk spreading bed bugs to others.
Getting rid of infested furniture. Be sure to label it with red spray paint so that other people don't pick up that furniture off the street.