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Bed Bugs in the Pacific Northwest

Reports from Multnomah County officials have confirmed that Portland and its surrounding areas are no exception to the national bed bug re-infestation. These blood-sucking pests have received increasing media attention over the past several months, and bed bug pest control reports in the Northwest have tripled over the last two years.

These primarily nocturnal pests have spread throughout the nation by hitching rides in travelers’ suitcases, purses, and even by jumping from person to person. They can be picked up just about anywhere, including hotels, workplaces, hospitals and public transportation.

In Portland, TriMet officials say they clean their buses every night and have not seen a problem with bed bugs.

What to Look For

Bed bugs are easily confused with other common household pests. Adult bed bugs are flat, rust-colored and about the size of an apple seed. Newly hatched, they are semi-transparent, light tan in color and about the size of a poppy seed.

When inspecting for bed bugs, it is helpful to use a flashlight and magnifying glass. Begin by checking the area within 10-20 feet of where you normally sleep or sit, as this is the typical distance the insects will travel.

Symptoms of a bed bug infestation include:

  • Small blood spots on your sheets.
  • Black dots on sheets and pillowcases (bed bug excrement).
  • Unexplained welts that appear on your body on a daily or weekly basis.

What to Do

Follow these pest prevention tips to help keep an infestation from entering your home:

  • Don’t bring home anything from a “free” box or table, and be extremely cautious about buying used furniture, mattresses or clothing. (Consider having a pest control professional inspect your secondhand items.)
  • Put bed bug covers on all mattresses in your home.
  • Reduce clutter in your home, as this will help reduce the amount of hiding places for pests.
  • Wash and dry sheets and clothing on high heat.
  • When traveling, bring a large garbage bag to keep your suitcase in during hotel stays. Vacuum your suitcase when you get home, and immediately wash any clothes you took.

Bed bugs are difficult to get rid of, but not impossible. If you do find evidence of an infestation, your best bet is to contact a bed bug pest control professional for help.

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