Bringing Home Bed Bugs

June often marks the beginning of travel to and from summer camps, sporting events, dormitories and apartments, hotel rooms, and numerous other destinations both near and far. With increased travel comes an increased risk of encountering and inadvertently introducing bed bugs in your home.

Bed bugs are a problem throughout Ohio, the US, and worldwide – a problem we all may encounter at some time in our lives. Bed bugs are small insects that hitchhike on clothing, luggage, and other items that have come into contact with an infested location. These unwanted “house guests” can enter our homes on travel gear, luggage, clothing, shoes or other personal items. Acquiring or purchasing used bedding, mattresses, and upholstered furniture can also introduce bed bugs into the home.

Bed bugs are commonly found in areas where people sleep or rest such as beds, couches, or recliners. Adult bed bugs are brown to reddish-brown, oval-shaped, flattened, and about 3/16 to 1/5” long. They move very quickly but do not have wings and cannot fly.

Bed bugs are nocturnal insects that feed mostly at night while their host sleeps. Their bite is painless but may result in small, swollen welts that may itch. Rows of three or more welts on exposed skin are characteristic signs of bed bug feeding.  Fortunately, bed bugs do not carry nor transmit disease, but some people may have an allergic reaction to the bites.

When staying away from home, check beds, mattresses, box springs, and baseboards for dark, rusty spots that are bed bug feces, eggs, or shed skins. Adult bed bugs often hide in crevices any may be difficult to find. If you spot any of these, request another room or move locations if possible. Remember to keep clothing, suitcases and other items off beds and on luggage stands, even if a room appears to be clean.

Here are some tips for preventing bed bugs from entering your home:

  • Carefully inspect all items that will be brought into your home after traveling.
  • Clothing should be removed from luggage and washed in hot water (hot water kills bed bugs). Similar precautions should be taken when family members move back home from an apartment, dormitory, hospital stay, or summer camp.
  • Use caution when placing backpacks, bags, purses, and coats on floors or upholstered items.

If you suspect that your home has been infested with bed bugs, confirm their identification by bringing insects to the the local OSU Extension office. Please make sure insects are in a sealed container.

Prevention and good sanitation in the home are the best defenses for all types of insect concerns including bed bugs. Bed bugs are difficult to eliminate once established in a dwelling. Over the counter baits, insect fogs, insect bombs, and do-it-yourself remedies do not work. Eradication often requires a professional exterminator, several insecticide applications, extensive cleaning and sanitation, along with a healthy dose of perseverance and patience.

For additional information on bed bugs, visit the Ohio State University bed bug website maintained by Dr. Susan Jones, OSU bed bug entomologist, at http://u.osu.edu/bedbugs/. Household pest id cards (image) can be obtained from the Putnam County Extension office at 419-523-6294, by email at scheckelhoff.11@osu.edu, or stop in at 1206 East Second Street in Ottawa. You can also find us on Facebook by searching for OSU Extension Putnam County.

 

 

Tick Tock…It’s Time for Tick Season!

I was genuinely surprised and slightly alarmed to see that the spider my daughter found in our house on Monday morning was not a spider at all, but rather a tick. It was in fact a female American dog tick. We most likely picked up this gal while walking through tall grass and weeds along a field edge last evening. Luckily, she must have only attached to my clothing and fallen off after coming indoors.

Why should we be concerned about ticks in Ohio? The American dog tick, the blacklegged tick, and the Lone star tick are commonly found in Ohio – and each can carry harmful bacteria that cause disease. Humans and animals can become ill if bitten by an infected tick. Infected ticks can transmit tick-borne diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease, among others.

The American dog tick is the most commonly found tick in Ohio from mid-April through July. American dog ticks like grassy areas along roads and paths, especially near woods and shrubby areas. The adult tick positions itself on grasses and weeds waiting to latch onto the fur or clothing of humans, dogs, groundhogs, raccoons, or other large mammals passing by. The tick will attach to its host and feed. In humans, this is often on the scalp or along the hairline. When attached for at least a day, the adult American dog tick can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever. In Ohio, however, it is estimated that less than 2% of American dog ticks carry the bacteria that causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and few people are infected each year.

Follow these practical tips to help keep you, your loved ones and your pets tick-free this summer. First, avoid tick-infested wooded and grassy areas when possible. If you will be outdoors in areas where ticks are likely to occur, make sure to:

  • Dress appropriately by wearing light-colored clothing including tall socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts. Make sure to tuck your pants into your socks and your shirt into your pants. Light-colored clothing allows you to readily see insects crawling on your clothing.
  • Treat clothing, boots, and camping gear with permethrin according to manufacturer instructions. Products containing permethrin should not be applied directly to your skin.
  • Use insect repellent products that contain at least 25% DEET on exposed skin. Repellants wear off over time and will need to be reapplied according to the product instructions. Adults should apply repellants to children.
  • Use anti-tick products on dogs, keep dogs close to home and prevent them from freely roaming in grassy and wooded areas.
  • Frequently check your body and pets for ticks and immediately remove them when found. To remove an attached tick, use a pair of tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and firmly pull upward. Place the tick in a plastic bag or other container for correct identification. Thoroughly wash the bite site with soap and water.

If you have been bitten by a tick, it is important to correctly identify the type of tick and monitor the location of the bite over the next several weeks. If the bite area becomes swollen or develops a rash, consult your physician immediately.

There are numerous online resources for for tick identification and information, including www.tickencounter.org. The American dog, blacklegged, and Lone star ticks have a hard plate on their back that enable identification between the different types, as well as between males and females. You can bring the tick to the Putnam County Extension office for identification or to the local health department. OSU Extension also has handy, pocket-sized tick id cards that individuals can take and use to identify ticks when outdoors or at home. To obtain a tick id card, or for more information, contact the Putnam County Extenstion office at 419-523-6294, by email at scheckelhoff.11@osu.edu, or stop in at 1206 East Second Street in Ottawa. You can now find us on Facebook by searching for OSU Extension Putnam County.