Bedbugs Come in the Mail: How to Protect Your Home

Friday, 13 Dec 2013 08:09 AM

By Rick Ansorge

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The rising popularity of online holiday shopping has given rise to an unexpected horror: Bedbugs and other insects are spreading into homes through shipped goods.

"Cardboard boxes are especially problematic because they offer good insulation for bugs," says Dr. Shripat Kamble, former director of the certification program for the Entomological Society of America and a professor of entomology at the University of Nebraska. “They have a lot of corrugation and corrugated materials offer a lot of hiding places for insects.”

What can be hiding inside the packages you order online?

For starters, live adult specimens and egg cases of biting insects such as bedbugs, spiders, ants, and fleas. Packages also can harbor pests such as Asian cockroaches, Indian meal moths, carpet beetles, red flour beetles, and wood-boring insects such as termites and powder post beetles.

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Larger stowaways can even include mice burrowing beneath packing peanuts and snails snuggling on ornamental plants.

"
Snail mail. That would be the correct way to describe it," Dr. Kamble tells Newsmax Health.

Many package invaders are perfectly comfortable inside a cardboard box, even during the coldest winter weather. They don’t even necessarily need a food source. A bedbug, for example, can go without a blood meal for up to 40 days.

"
Bedbugs were never a problem in this country until about 1990," Dr. Kamble says. That’s when web shopping began to gain a foothold in the retail world. Deliveries from far-flung places aided the spread of the insects.

"Now, because of increased numbers of people moving from state to state and increased international travel, they’re causing major problems wherever you go," said Dr. Kamble

Dr. Kamble offers the following tips to protect yourself and your property from mail-order insects:


Avoid ordering exotic plants from tropical countries. If the vendor doesn’t have a rigorous inspection policy, your new plants could conceal burrowed insects that emerge to feast on the food in your kitchen. If you do order exotic plants, be sure to select a reputable company.
Open packages with care. Open packages in a garage or outside, and open them slowly and in good light so you can see and quickly kill any crawling critters. Be sure to look for other signs of infestation such as seed-like droppings, egg sacs, and insect larvae.

Freeze the contents. Obviously, you can’t freeze live plants or some foods. But if you place non-perishable merchandise such as clothing in a freezer for a couple of days, it will kill pests such as bedbugs.

The full version of this article originally appeared in Health Radar. To read more, CLICK HERE.

© 2014 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.

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