Bedbugs - What are they? What can be done?

The Daily Free Press - Bedbugs still a problem on campus

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Bedbugs have been in the news lately as a growing pest in the area. The above link is from Boston University's Daily Free Press's report on the student population & the public at large. One of the best paragraphs from the article reads:

“Bedbugs travel with people. It has nothing to do with hygiene,” he said. “Some of the nicest hotels in the world have bedbugs because of the transition of people coming into their properties.”

From the company Orkin's website :

Bed Bugs
Latin Name:
Cimex lectularius L.

Bed bugs are flat, reddish-brown, oval insects about 3/16-inch long or the size of an apple seed. Swollen and reddish after a blood meal.

Cracks and crevices including mattress seams, sheets, furniture, behind baseboards, electrical outlet plates and picture frames. Often found in hotels, where they can travel from room to room and in visitors’ luggage.

Feed on blood.

Females can deposit one to five eggs a day, and may lay 200 to 500 eggs in a lifetime. Under normal room temperatures and with an adequate food supply, bed bugs can live over 300 days.

Take a read from the Orkin webpage above for more detailed info.

The Mayo Clinic has great info on the signs & symptoms as well as treatment for bedbug bites:
Bedbugs - Symptoms
By Mayo Clinic staff

Bedbug bites
Signs and symptoms of bedbug bites will usually affect only the surface of your skin, revealing themselves as small itchy red bumps known as papules or wheals. You might find the lesions in a linear or clustered fashion, indicative of repeated feedings by a single bedbug.

Some people may develop allergic reactions or larger skin reactions such as:

■Large, itchy wheals up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) across
■Blister-like skin inflammations
■Groups of small, swollen sacs of pus
■Skin rashes similar to hives

While not a scientific resource Wikipedia has some interesting links for further info & details on Bedbugs as well:

Treatments and drugs
By Mayo Clinic staff

Treatment of bedbug bites is aimed at relieving symptoms. Bites usually resolve within one to two weeks.

■Apply a topical cream, such as cortisone, to relieve itching.
■Avoid scratching to prevent infection.
■Consult your doctor if you have severe reactions. An oral antibiotic may be recommended if infection occurs. Oral corticosteroids may be recommended for severe allergic reaction.
■Take antihistamines if needed to help relieve allergic reactions.

Once your symptoms are treated, you must tackle the infestation. First, you'll need to freeze pajamas, sheets and other bedclothes for at least 24 hours or launder them in hot water of at least 97 F (36 C). Vacuum the area of infestation daily and freeze the vacuum bags for 24 hours. Insecticide sprays such as dichlorvos, permethrin and malathion must be used around cracks and crevices in your home. Lawn and garden insect control sprays may contain these insecticides, and garden stores may have permethrin. However, this difficult task likely requires a professional inspection of the bedbug habitat and subsequent extermination.

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