By LOU WILIN

FOR THE REVIEW TIMES

The holiday season each year brings a rise in home invasions by bedbugs.

For one thing, temperatures outside are getting colder and thermostats are heating up homes, raising the metabolism and reproduction rate of bedbugs, said Corey Mauger, vice president of Mauger Exterminating in Findlay.

To make matters worse, people are visiting family and friends, wearing coats. Guest coats often get thrown on a bed, a common bedbug hideout.

When the holiday visit is over and family and friends get their coats from the bed, they become unwitting escorts on their trip home for a stowaway bedbug, said Brian Rupe, a technician for Mauger Exterminating.

“Bedbugs are excellent hitchhikers,” Rupe said.

Bedbugs migrate in other ways, too. More people this season are traveling and staying at hotels, which are notorious bedbug haunts.

The bedbug possibilities seem endless.

“You could sit in a chair in a waiting room at a public building, somebody sitting next to you or somebody who sat there before you had some (bedbugs),” Mauger said.

There in the chair, opportunistic bedbugs lie in wait for a host with the human blood they need to survive.

“They want to come over to you. Everything about them is to seek you out,” he said. “They are equipped to find a new host.”

“One person can go five places in town and leave bedbugs behind. And that’s what keeps the bedbug situation going, is people seeding other homes or other businesses with bedbugs,” Mauger said. “It doesn’t matter who you are, you don’t know when you could actually pick one up.”

An Ohio State University survey found that four of five Ohioans have either been directly affected by bedbugs or have a family member who has, he said.

“This year has been the worst outbreak that we have seen since the ’80s,” said Logan Steele, owner of Advanced Environmental Pest Solutions in Tiffin. “It’s everywhere, but this region (northern Ohio) has been hit particularly hard.”

Getting rid of a bedbug infestation can be expensive and inconvenient. Detecting an infestation sooner can make extermination easier and cheaper, Mauger said.

“If you see blood stains showing up on your sheets, that’s a sign” of an infestation, he said.

Bedbugs leave rusty red stains on a bed when they are nesting there. Often the markings are near the head of the bed.

Mauger suggests checking the mattress and box springs every time you change the bedsheets. Start your inspection at the head of the bed.

“They usually start there. And it’s usually in the seams or on the bottom side of the box springs, which is easy for them to get into,” he said.

Their fecal stains have been described as rusty red in color to black. Their eggs, about a millimeter long, resemble white rice. Bedbugs shed exoskeletons which are beige to white in color and a millimeter to a centimeter in length.

While a bed is the first place to check for bedbugs, people also should check other furniture, like sofas, recliners and chairs, especially spaces between and underneath cushions.

When you go to a motel, you should immediately remove the sheets, comforter and pillows from the bed, Steele said. Then peel back the lipped seam that goes around the mattress and check it thoroughly.

Steele also emphasized checking the area at the head of the bed thoroughly.

That includes checking the back of the headboard. Steele said it can be removed from the wall by lifting it up — hotels generally attach headboards to the wall with an L-shaped bracket.

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