September 1st marks the start to a lot of changes. Summer is coming to an end too soon, fall is about to begin, and Halloween and Thanksgiving are right around the corner. It's also the day many Bostonians move to new homes and apartments, ready to make their new space their own.
With moving, however, comes the risk for some unwanted houseguests – bedbugs. Bedbugs are small, reddish-brown, wingless insects. They hide in fabric and upholstery, such as mattresses, furniture, and luggage, as well as behind loose wallpaper and in cracks in walls, floors, and ceilings. Bedbugs can easily spread between apartments and rooms, can live in vacant apartments, and can travel into your home on furniture, luggage, or clothing. At night, they feed on people and leave behind itchy, red bites. Bedbugs are not caused by poor housekeeping, and they do not live on people's bodies like lice do, but they provide a lot of annoyance and discomfort.
Here's what you can do if you think you have bedbugs:
- Wash bites with antibacterial soap and don't scratch!
- Check your furniture for bedbugs. Pay attention to the seams of your mattress and couch, your rug, and any cracks or gaps in your floor, since bedbugs like to hide there.
- If you own your home, contact a licensed, experienced terminator. If you rent your home, contact your landlord.
- Contact Boston's Inspectional Services Department at 617-635-5300 and an inspector will visit your home and conduct an inspection.
- Listen to the instructions given to you by your exterminator and landlord.
- Wash all sheets, towels, clothing, and other fabrics in hot water and dry them on high heat to kill bedbug eggs. Store clean sheets, towels, clothing, etc. in new plastic bags until your exterminator says it's safe to remove them.
Bedbug extermination is a lot of work, but it's very important that it be done correctly. That's why it's important to hire a licensed and experienced exterminator and to follow all instructions, as outlined in the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan.
Here's three ways you can avoid bedbugs:
- Contact Boston's Inspectional Services Department for a pre-rental inspection of your new apartment.
- Never bring in furniture, mattresses, or luggage from the curb. This is the most common way people bring bedbugs into their homes.
- Seal cracks in floors, walls, and ceilings.
For more information, please contact the Environmental & Occupational Health Office at 617-534-5965.