(WPRI) — If your newsfeed has been infested with bedbugs lately, you’re not alone.
Numerous reports from France suggest this year’s Paris Fashion Week occurred amid an unprecedented outbreak of these tiny pests.
Just in case, here’s everything you need to know about bedbugs: how to recognize them, how to avoid them, and how to eradicate them.
What do bedbugs look like?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Agriculture (USDA) all consider bedbugs a public health pest.
While the insects are not known to transmit disease, bedbugs do feed on human blood and can cause itchy welts.
The EPA states that adult bedbugs are usually brown and flat when unfed, and reddish and round when fed. Bedbugs are about the size of an apple seed and tend to hide in cracks and crevices when not feeding.
However, signs of their presence include reddish stains and spots on sheets, furniture, or mattresses, as well as eggs and eggshells. Bedbugs also emanate a sweetish, musty smell.
How can I make sure I don’t have bedbugs?
Bedbugs travel from site to site by hitching a ride on furniture, clothes, bedding, luggage and boxes, according to the EPA.
- Check mattresses, box springs and any other furniture for signs of a bedbug infestation.
- When getting into an unfamiliar vehicle, quickly scan the seat for reddish stains or black spots. Then, once you leave the vehicle, make sure to check your luggage for any unwanted passengers that may have latched on.
- “Diligence is the primary defense against bedbugs,” International Drivers Association’s Dominic Wyatt said. “An awareness of your surroundings can go a long way in preventing their spread.”
- Check any secondhand furniture for bedbugs before bringing it into your home.
- Reduce clutter so bedbugs have fewer places to hide.
- Vacuum your space frequently to remove any uninvited guests.
Oh no, I think I have bedbugs — what do I do now?
Once you’ve checked with your local extension agent and confirmed that you’ve actually found a bedbug, the easiest (but arguably most expensive) way to treat an infestation is to call a pest management professional.
If that’s not in the cards, it’s OK: The EPA has a helpful step-by-step DIY guide to ridding your home of them, from sealing off all the cracks in your home and discarding any furniture you can’t save to killing the bugs with heat, cold or steam.
If you are a renter, your landlord or building owner may be responsible for extermination if bedbugs are found in more than one unit or in a common area.