WASHINGTON - Bedbugs are back in a big way. One in five Americans encountered the apple-seed size insects in a home or hotel - or knew someone who had in the last year, according to the National Pest Management Association.
That's why the Environmental Protection Agency hosted its second annual bedbug summit in Washington this week. Hundreds of scientists, government officials and pest control experts gathered for the two-day conference to discuss ways to combat the current bedbug problem in the U.S.
Attendees submitted recommendations to the federal government to better control this growing critter population. Those recommendations "focused on communication and research needs," says Lois Rossi of the EPA.
They'll be made available to the public within weeks on its website: www.epa.gov . They will also be compiled into a national strategy.
Government and industry officials say vigilance is key to preventing these pests. "Look for bedbugs that might be hitchhiking on your purse or luggage," says Jim Fredericks of the pest management association.
One sure sign of an infestation: bedbug droppings. They're described as pepper-like flakes and are often found on bed sheets and mattresses, the association says.
Another is red bumps on the skin where bedbug bites. However, not everyone is susceptible to this reaction.
For those who suspect they have infestation, Rossi says "there are various things they should do, cleaning up, controlling the clutter, bagging up their clothes, putting clothes in the dryer and getting some professional advice."
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