There was a time, not so very long ago, when the lowly bed bug had been all but eradicated in North America. Or so it seemed. Bed bug infestations were few and far between and at least one generation had grown up never experiencing the stress and irritation of living with these blood-sucking parasites.
Unfortunately, the national respite was to be short lived. Bed bugs have made a robust return to our shores and infestations are on the rise throughout the country. As bed bugs spread throughout our communities is worth taking some time to consider just how these pests find their way into our homes and offices.
Just How do Bed Bugs Spread, Anyway?
It’s a good question, and one that deserves a good answer. Unfortunately, there really isn’t one simple answer to the question of how bed bugs spread. In fact, bed bugs find a way into your home or workplace in a variety of different ways. And some of them might surprise you:
Bed bugs can be brought in with second hand furniture
Bed bugs can be brought in with second hand clothing
Bed bugs can be picked up at gyms, theaters and shopping centers
Bed bugs can be picked up on trains, planes and airplanes
Hotels and motels are bed bug hotspots
Bed bugs can spread through cracks in the walls in multi-unit buildings
As you can see, there are plenty of different ways bed bugs can get into your home or office. But this list is far from exhaustive. There’s at least one more way bed bug infestations can start, and that’s through the mail. Yep. You read that right…
Can You Pick Up Bed Bugs by Post?
Bed bugs are fairly hardy beasts. They can survive extreme temperatures and can go weeks without food. So while it’s a fairly rare occurrence, it is certainly possible for bed bugs to invade your home or workplace by mail. It all comes down to where the package is coming from and who’s shipping it to you.
Online shopping has become pretty common, and we have all gotten used to receiving packages on a fairly regular basis. The good news is most online businesses keep a clean shop. So if you’re shopping with a national online retailer the chances are slim that you’ll end up receiving bed bugs with your purchase. Most retailers ship direct from their own warehouses. The purchase their packaging supplies in bulk and store them securely. Both of which reduces the chance of bed bug infestations that may be spread through the packing and shipping process.
However, not all online retailers are the same. If you are shopping with an auction site, or buying from a secondary seller on a site like Amazon, your chances for picking up a stray bed bug increase dramatically. These sellers are typically working from home and are often selling second hand merchandise. They may even be reusing packing materials. All of this adds up to a heightened risk of transporting bed bugs along with your purchase.
How to Avoid Getting Bed Bugs in the Mail
If you’re worried about receiving bed bugs with your latest online purchase there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself. First, when you receive a package don’t open it right away. If you do, any stray bugs inside will get out of the package and into your home.
Before you start ripping open that box consider the following safety tips:
Open your packages outside. This will lessen the chances of any stray bed bugs getting into your home.
Check your purchase for bed bugs. Once the package is opened look the items over and check for any signs of bed bugs. Use a cloth to wipe the item down. Again, this should all be done out of doors.
Throw away the packaging immediately. Boxes and packing materials give bed bugs plenty of places to hide. Once you remove the contents of a package throw the box and any packing materials away. Put them in the outside trash.
Track Your Online Purchases
This is probably an obvious tip but it’s worth mentioning. If you do find bed bugs nestled inside of one of your packages make a note of the retailer or seller from which you made the purchase. If it happened once it can happen again. You might also consider contacting the seller to inform them of the bed bug issue so they can take steps to correct it. Failing that you might leave an online review to help other buyers avoid getting bed bugs with their purchases.
Protect Yourself from Bed Bugs
Avoiding bed bug infestations begins and ends with diligence. The more aware you are of your potential exposure to these pests the better your chances of avoiding an infestation. While checking letters and packages for bed bugs may seem extreme it only takes one bed bug infestation to make you wish you had been more diligent about protecting yourself from these beastly beasties.
Published by Scott Palatnik
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