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How to know if you have bedbugs

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[Howdini - get yourself a guru] Hi, I'm Kimberly Austin for Howdini.com here with the experts to talk about the dreaded bedbug and how you can tell if you have an infestation. Once all but gone in North America, the tiny blood-sucking insects are back and wreaking havoc across the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control, they don't spread disease, but they are notoriously difficult to contain and expensive to exterminate. Bedbugs are everywhere. Pest control operator, Jeremy Eckert, saw a big business opportunity a few years ago and started doing inspections with dogs specially trained to sniff out the scent of bedbugs and their eggs. I've been in the swankiest hotels in New York City. [Jeremy Eckert, The BedBug Inspectors] We've been in some of the nicest apartments in New York City on Central Park West. No one's immune to the problem. It's not a cleanliness thing; it's not a socioeconomic thing. [Kimberly Austin, Howdini.com] Just reading or hearing about bedbugs makes a lot of people itch, really. "It's mostly psychosomatic," say the experts, "but knowing where to look and what to look for is your best defense." Most people, I think, will either see a bite reaction on their skin, if they react to bites, or see droppings or see bedbugs crawling. Lou Sorkin is an entomologist at the Museum of Natural History in New York. He's been studying, breeding, and feeding bedbugs for the last 10 years. How do bedbugs get brought into a home? [Lou Sorkin, Entomologist, AMNH] Bedbugs are normally good hitchhikers, and if people are traveling, they can easily get onto your luggage or briefcase or outer clothing or in some other object that's picked up by people and carried somewhere else. "And once in your home or apartment building," he says, "they can migrate easily between rooms or units through the wiring." You are what they're after. Bedbugs feed on blood usually while the host is sleeping. They inject a numbing agent first so you don't feel it. After about 10 minutes, the bug goes back into hiding, usually somewhere nearby. In some people, a series of otherwise unexplained red bite marks or even welts will appear soon after, but not in everyone. Unfortunately, many people don't react to bedbug bites and they never know they have a bedbug problem unless they see the insects. "So knowing what bedbugs look like in all stages of their development is critical," says Sorkin. The bedbug starts out from an egg stage. When the egg hatches, it is called a nymph. And this is a little insect that's about a millimeter long, or the thickness of a credit card. From egg to adult, the insect changes dramatically. Adults are always dark or reddish brown, a quarter of an inch long or more. And as it feeds and takes in blood, it becomes plumper. So it goes from flat to plump. Now the first place you want to look is in the pillow cases. Now that you know what bedbugs look like, here's where to look for them. You want to check the seams. James Crenshaw is a certified pest control applicator with Five Star Environments in New York. He's looking for bedbugs but also for the yellowish skins they shed and for their droppings, tiny black dots or red smears on your bedclothes. Once the pillow is out of the way, then we would check the seams on the quilt to see if there was anything along here, any eggs. "Go layer by layer," Crenshaw says, "and repeat these steps all the way around the bed, including bed skirts." Check behind, see, look for blood stains or droppings and eggs and things like that. They're usually back here. Peel it back. You'll see them right along here, all along the seam right here, below this, inside the label, and just generally along this line right here because this is where they would stay at being their host would be sleeping right here. Of course, the mattress itself is a notorious hiding place for bedbugs. They're known to nest along the seams, the sides, and around vents or grommets like this one, and don't forget the box spring. Look carefully at and under it as bedbugs can find lots of places to hide here just out of site, and carefully examine the bed frame, behind the headboard, any storage under your bed, and of course everything on the floor around it including nearby furniture. Check the bottom of the legs because this is where they would actually hang out at also. I always find them right at the foot. Bedbugs will hide on or in wood, fabric, metal, phones, electronics, anything so long as it's close to their food source, which is of course you. And though we're focused on the bedroom here, keep in mind that you'll want to check the couch, easy chairs, and desk areas, where ever you spend significant time lying or sitting still. The last place I would look--check all of these little cracks. Despite the horror stories you may have heard about bedbugs infesting every nook and cranny in your home, for most of us, this kind of search is good enough. [Kimberly Austin, Howdini.com] [James Crenshaw, Five Star Environments] A lot of people think that you can find bedbugs all over the place. That's true only in infestations, though. It has to be a really bad infestation to find them everywhere. "But that kind of infestation takes months," he says. If you're checking regularly, you're going to find them long before then. If you've got a handful of bugs, like maybe you picked two up, brought them in the house, and they're in your bed for about 3 or 4 days, they're going to stay there. There's going to be probably 80 to 100 bugs in this bed before they start spreading out and hitting the walls and going to different places. Come on, bud. Jeremy Eckert says he sees many more people who don't have bedbugs than do. If you want to call in a dog, be aware that this is a controversial practice in the pest control industry. Eckert says try to choose a company not associated with an exterminator who could benefit from your business if the dog detects the scent of bedbugs. "Well-trained dog teams rarely miss an infestation," he says, "but there is a risk of false positives." It's not an exact science. You're using animals, your handler, and the dog, so nothing's going to be perfect. Entomologist, Lou Sorkin, says dogs should only be used as a tool to tell their human handlers where to look for bedbugs. So ultimately, a visual verification is really what you need. It's really the best way, yes. Do you recommend that everyone does an inspection in and around their bed for bedbugs? Well, it's very important to be able to rule out infestations. How often should you look? You may want to do it maybe four times a year if there's no other reason. If you're inclined to worry, though, James Crenshaw recommends you just make it part of your weekly laundry routine. That way you can stay on top of it. If something's going on, you do the inspection like I just did, you'll find something if there's something there. If you find nothing, you'll have some peace of mind, and if you can catch a bedbug infestation early, it will be a lot less costly and stressful to deal with. I'm Kimberly Austin with Howdini.com. [Howdini - www.howdini.com]

Video Details

Duration: 7 minutes and 17 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
License: All rights reserved
Producer: Howdini
Views: 161
Posted by: howdini on Feb 10, 2011

How do you know if you have bedbugs? Got an itch? Seen a bug you don't recognize? Bedbug expert Lou Sorkin from the American Museum of Natural History and two very busy pest control operators join Howdini's Kimberly Austin with everything you need to know how to tell if you have bedbugs.

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