are making a comeback in Illinois
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[February 25, 2009]
SPRINGFIELD -- Bedbugs are on the rise
in Illinois after a dramatic decline in the 1940s and 1950s. A
couple of reasons for the return are more worldwide travel and the
fact that today's insecticides, although safer for people, are less
effective in killing these bugs. Bedbugs are small, flat insects,
usually reddish-brown and up to one-fourth-inch long. Bedbugs do not
fly or hop but can move quickly across floors and walls. Bedbugs
most commonly enter hotels or residences by "hitchhiking" on a
suitcase or backpack, used furniture, or other objects moved from
one building to another. Bedbugs can survive several months without
At night, bedbugs leave their hiding places -- in mattresses, box
springs, bed frames, nightstands, curtains, couches and wall voids,
and behind baseboards, door and window frames, and carpet edges --
to feed. The bugs feed on the blood of animals, including people and
pets. The bug's beaklike mouth painlessly pierces its victim,
injects saliva and sucks up the host's blood, in about three to five
"The Illinois Department of Public Health is seeing an increase
in the number of calls from the public and from local health
departments about bedbug infestations," said Dr. Damon T. Arnold,
state public health director. "To help reduce this problem, I
encourage everyone to learn the signs of bedbug infestations, how
the bugs spread, what you can do to prevent getting them and what to
do if you find bedbugs."
Although bedbugs are not known to transmit disease, their bites
can cause an intense itch, and scratching could produce secondary
infections. Bedbugs may be brought into well-maintained hotels and
clean homes because all they need to survive is a place to hide and
a host to supply their only food -- blood. New infestations may go
undetected when only a few bedbugs are present, allowing the
infestation to grow and spread.
Signs of infestation:
Spots of blood left
on bed sheets indicate bedbug biting.
specks (feces) and bedbug "shells" (shed exoskeletons) indicate
a bedbug infestation.
A peculiar musty raspberry odor from
bedbug secretions may be noticed where many bedbugs are present.
How bedbugs are spread:
Bedbugs attach to
luggage, backpacks, clothing, beds and furniture, and move when
and where those objects are moved.
are often traced to travel, particularly travel in a country
where bedbugs are common.
Use of secondhand
furniture, particularly beds and couches, is another way bedbugs
can be spread.
Also, bedbugs can
quickly spread from one unit to the next in multi-unit dwellings
such as apartment buildings.
To prevent getting
Keep all beds
pulled slightly away from walls, furniture and curtains. Make
sure bedding doesn't touch the floor. Wrap carpet tape or duct
tape (sticky side out) around bed legs, or use traps, to prevent
bedbugs from climbing onto beds.
Keep the floor
under and around beds free of clutter.
Change sheets and
pillow cases weekly. Use hot water for washing, or machine dry
at medium or high heat.
Use fitted sheets
on the mattress, or tuck sheets under the mattress.
sheets and check for discolored spots when removing them from
Look for signs of bedbugs along the
seams of the mattress in places you stay (hotels, motels) and
keep your bags and luggage off the floor and bed.
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Do not place
anything (luggage, blankets, pillows, stuffed toys) that may
contain bedbugs onto any bed. Be particularly careful when
returning from a trip.
Only sleep on beds.
Do not sleep on couches or in upholstered chairs.
Inspect all used furniture carefully
for bedbugs before bringing it into a home -- do not scavenge
furniture left on the street.
If there is a bedbug infestation:
areas (including mattresses and box springs) and dispose of the
contents in a sealed garbage bag or trash container.
Remove the pillows,
sheets, blankets, mattress and box springs, and wash sheets and
blankets. Dry blankets, sheets and pillows at medium or high
Items that cannot
be completely inspected and treated should be thrown out.
mattresses and box springs inside mattress encasements specially
designed to exclude bedbugs.
Pesticides can be applied directly into
cracks and crevices harboring bedbugs. Hiring a licensed pest
management professional may be preferable to doing it yourself
because effective control requires experience, time and special
pesticide application equipment. Effective control of bedbugs
will probably require more than one pesticide treatment.
Owners and occupants have an important role and will need to
assist the pest control professional. Affording access for
inspection and treatment is crucial, and excess clutter that
provides hiding places for bedbugs should be removed. Since
bedbugs can move throughout a building, adjoining rooms and
apartments should always be inspected, and treated if bedbugs
Do not apply pesticides to mattresses, bedding or furniture
unless the pesticide's label specifically allows application to
these items. Do not apply pesticides to surfaces of mattresses,
bedding or furniture that will come in contact with people.
Treatments such as "fogging" and "bug bombs" are ineffective
against well-hidden bedbugs and may drive them into other rooms
or apartments and spread the infestation. Pesticide applications
should not be done unless bedbugs have been identified by a
For more information on bedbugs, visit
Illinois Department of Public Health
file received from the
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]