Originally published November 18, 2010 at 4:51 p.m., updated November 19, 2010 at 10:37 a.m.
SAN DIEGO Tiny vampire-like hitchhikers are snagging unwelcome rides with holiday travelers. Recent news reports find bedbugs are popping up in places like airports.
Bedbugs are little six-legged freeloaders that like to live indoors, in comfortable temperatures—very close to their favorite meal and host: humans.
At about a quarter inch in length, the finicky bugs can’t fly or jump and only dine on blood.
It would seem they would be dangerous to our health, but bedbugs don't carry diseases or illnesses according to Greg Slawson, a senior ecologist for San Diego County Vector Control.
"The science shows they do not carry diseases."
But their itchy, red, raised bites can become infected. And in rare cases too many bites can cause anemia in small children.
Except for their nightly 5-minute meal, bedbugs live all day in dark crevices, such as the seams of a mattress, behind baseboards and in the seams of our luggage.
If you look closely, you can see them with the naked eye; and they leave a trail of digested blood after a meal, said Slawson.
“If you see lots of little brownish or blackish stains on the bed, that could be a sign. You may not see the actual insects, but you can see signs they’ve been there."
Apparently bedbugs are not afraid of modern transportation. Recent news reports put them in the airport terminal at Lindbergh field.
Local airport officials denied having the creatures. They issued this statement: “The Airport Authority has a comprehensive extermination contract, and we continually monitor for any type of pest. We have received no complaints and no reported sightings of bedbugs at San Diego International Airport by passengers or employees.”
If bedbugs are in airports or in your home, the best way to send the little buggers packing is with a professional exterminator who does follow-up visits, explained Slawson.
"You can’t just get rid of them with one treatment. They can get most of them. But there will be a percentage of them you can’t get rid of because they’re such good hiders."