Bedbugs are back and in a big way. CBS News asked a group of extermination experts for the ins and outs of handling these bloodsucking mini-monsters.
Once you get infested, bedbugs are notoriously difficult to remove. So check out our seven tips to keeping them away in the first place.
Credit: Joel Carillet
Bed Bugs Like to Hitchhike
"They can travel easily from place to place, on people's clothing or in their personal belongings," says Dr. Ron Harrison, technical director for extermination firm Orkin. "Once inside a hotel, home or office building, they can spread from room to room - on furniture, through pipes and through housekeeping devices, such as vacuum cleaners."
In order to track down these critters and keep them away from your home - you have to make sure they don't travel with you.
"Inspect your luggage after traveling, and for an extra precaution, wash and dry your clothes, from a trip, on high heat," Harrison says.
Protect Your Luggage
One way to ensure that bedbugs don't find their way into your suitcases while you're traveling is to place your luggage in plastic trash bags, the National Pest Management Association suggests.
Find the Monsters
Bedbugs like to create a habitat within a 5-foot radius of their food source, which naturally, is you. Although they don't spread disease like other insects or pests - they can cause itchy and nasty looking welts on your skin.
To check for an infestation, Dr. Harrison says you need to "look under mattresses, near baseboards, behind picture frames, in drawers, under buckling wallpaper or carpet, and areas with excessive heat or moisture."
He also says that "tiny, rust-colored stains on mattress tags and seams, under seat cushions, behind headboards, and around light switches" along with a distinct musty yet sweet odor - like soda pop syrup - are telltale signs you've got a bed bug problem on your hands.
Seal Your Home
If you've got some time on your hands and want to busy yourself with a home, D-I-Y project - you can buy some caulk and work to seal the cracks and crevices in your home, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene suggests. This will help prevent bed bugs and other pests from entering your humble abode.
Quarantine Pocketbooks and Backpacks
Since just about anyone can bring bedbugs into a home - you've got to be sure to keep personal belongings as well as bags you've brought in from outside off the floor and away from your bed, according to Orkin. That should reduce the likelihood of an insect crawling into your bedroom.
Keep it Clean
Here's a new reason to make your apartment or home spic and span - the cleaner and more organized your home, the easier it is to find and treat bed bugs. So, start clearing the clutter!
Beware the Mall
While enjoying a fun day of shopping at the mall or any clothing store - make sure you inspect clothing carefully before purchasing. Even if you choose an item from an undisturbed pile - bed bugs can still find their way onto clothing.
The National Pest Management Association advises to pay particular attention to the inside seams, looking for any signs of sticky white eggs.
It's also important to seal your bags to prevent bed bugs from crawling in, says the association.
And your last line of defense, before bring the new clothes into your home, give them a good shake outside the door.