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Bedbugs make unfortunate comeback
"Good night, sleep tight, don't ..." well, you know the rest.
Unfortunately, what used to be a fun bedtime rhyme for kids has turned back into real advice, thanks to the resurgence in bedbugs.
The problem, which came into the spotlight with discoveries of the parasitic insects in hotels and motels, came closer to home this week with news that bedbug-sniffing dogs were being called into University of Nebraska dorms and a fraternity to deal with the critters.
Bedbugs, most commonly Cimex lectularius, prefer to feed on human blood. Known for thousands of years, they were mostly eradicated in the Western world by the early 1940s, but since the mid-1990s, they have been making a comeback.
They are most active at night, but are capable of feeding on their hosts without being noticed. Unfortunately, the host may notice problems like skin rashes, psychological effects and allergic symptoms.
The bugs and eggs can be brought in by pets, or in people's clothing, luggage, backpacks or furniture.
They can also spread from nearby infested buildings, or even by wild animals such as bats or birds.
Assuming your dog isn't trained to sniff out bedbugs -- which we're told smell like overripe raspberries -- you may be able to spot their molts or droppings upon close inspection.
Then it's time to call the exterminator to bring in the pesticides, treat the mattresses with heat and giving everything a good vacuuming.
Or, you might let their natural enemies -- cockroaches, ants, spiders, mites and centipedes -- take over. Then again, you might not.
At home, general good housekeeping is the best bet for keeping bedbugs at bay.
Away from home, when you check into a hotel, it's a good idea to inspect the room for signs of bedbugs, such as fecal spots on bed linens, pillows and mattresses, small brown/black spots and smears. Bed bugs live in cracks the width of a credit card, as well as voids created by wood framing of the foundation.
Hotel and motel bed headboards are often fastened to the wall. You may need to lift the headboard off its hanger to inspect behind it. Even if no bed bugs are found, don't place luggage on the floor near the head of the bed.
You can find more about managing bedbugs at http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/resources/BedBug263.shtml