Spring Breakers Beware of Itchy Souvenirs

Students may bring back more than just fun and crazy memories of Spring Break. Bed bugs are back and are hitching rides with vacationing students from their hotels and motels to their homes and dorms. So whether it's fun in the sun or hitting the slopes, students may find themselves with a biting problem.

According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), pest control companies are reporting a significant increase in the number of calls regarding bed bug infestations.

"Bed bugs are resilient pests that travel easily from room to room within a house or from hotel to home via suitcases. They are extremely difficult to remove and require the precision and experience of a pest professional to entirely eliminate an infestation," says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for NPMA.

Bed bugs enjoy feeding on human blood. As they bite the skin they inject an anesthetic-like liquid that numbs the skin, leaving their victims undisturbed. "The good news about bed bugs, if there is any," reports Henriksen, "is that they are not disease-carrying pests. There is no record of them transmitting any sickness to humans; common skin reactions include circular, red, itchy welts." Although they are capable of living up to ten months without a meal, a single bed bug can lay up to 500 eggs in a lifetime.

Bed bugs derive their name from their tendency to live in beds, but they can be found in carpets, under wallpaper, behind baseboards, and in small cracks and crevices throughout a room. According to Henriksen, bed bug infestations are not attributed to unclean or unsanitary living conditions and can reside in numerous living areas. So thoroughly inspect the room and bed before unpacking. If any creepy crawlers are spotted, change rooms or establishments immediately.