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Growing Green: Bedbugs make big comeback in Douglas County

Such an odd summer comes with all sorts of new experiences for the gardener and homeowner. Bugs and disease have exploded in our gardens and in our homes. Summer travel in planes, buses and hotel stays have brought home some unwanted intruders to some Douglas County homeowners: bedbugs.

Bedbugs have made a resurgence across the U.S. in recent years, following their virtual obliteration by DDT in the 1970s. These tiny bugs are difficult to identify because they are similar to several other small insects. They vary in size, shape and color depending on their stage of development and how recently they have eaten.

These small insects hitch a ride on clothes, luggage and the assorted flotsam and jetsam that accompanies the traveler and is no way an indication of the cleanliness/class of a hotel or person. Bedbugs are an equal opportunity parasite. You can pick them up in a 5-star hotel, on a luxury ocean liner or in a cheap dive.

Adult bedbugs are brownish red in color and about the size of an apple seed. If they are unfed, they are oval and flat. However, if they have recently had a meal, they become round and elongated. Newly hatched bedbugs and early instars are transparent. (You can see their internal organs through their skin.)

If you suspect a bedbug infestation, inspect the mattress and box spring seams for cast skin, blood spots and dark fecal material. Bedbugs are most active at night. If you find active bugs during the day, they could be batbugs, a close relative of the bedbug.

In general, the sites of bedbug bites are usually:

• Red, often with a darker red spot in the middle

• Itchy

• Arranged in a rough line or in a cluster

• Located on the face, neck, arms and hands

Some people have no reaction at all to bedbug bites, while others experience an allergic reaction that can include severe itching, blisters or hives.

If you think you have found a bedbug, try to catch it on a piece of tape or put it in a plastic bag. You can then have this bug identified by a pest management professional (exterminator).

If an exterminator cannot verify it is a bed bug, send a sample on sticky tape to Bedbug Hotline, Room 219 Hodson Hall, 1980 Folwell Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55108.

For more information, visit the Beat the Bug website at www.bedbugs.umn.edu, call the bedbug information line at (612) 624-2200, e-mail bedbugs@umn.edu or call Douglas County Extension at (320) 762-3890.

For up to date reports of bedbug sightings in hotels, consult the bedbug registry at bedbugregistry.

com/.

Until next time, nighty night, sleep tight and don't let the bedbugs bite.

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