We used to believe that dirty or clean clothing didn't matter to bed bugs since they needed a host to feed on. A new study developed at the University of Sheffield, conducted by Dr. William Hentley, has proven this questionable.
Dr. Hentley, a behavioral ecologist, was doing research to understand why bed bugs have been spreading so quickly in the last few years. His findings, published in the journal Scientific Reports, alluded that dirty laundry could take partial blame for the spreading.
"In this experiment, we used a large room, we put bed bugs in an established refuge and we then introduced clothes that were either clean or dirty," Hentley said. "What we found was that after a period of time there was twice as many bed bugs found on bags containing dirty clothes compared to those clean clothes."
They fully expected that the volume of CO2 in the study room would taint the results, due to bed bugs loving human breath, but that was not the case. In a shocking turn, Hentley's study shows bed bugs don't need a human to get around. Hentley realized that bed bugs could jump onto dirty clothing and travel by that means.
Since suitcases and backpacks have so many small seams and pockets, which is perfect for the bed bug to hide, the research shows we need to change our thinking.
Instead of waiting to wash clothing until you get home, either wash while traveling or place dirty laundry in a sealed plastic bag and do laundry when you arrive home. Don't wait a few days, if you don't have plastic bags. Do them immediately and leave your belongings in a garage so they aren't taken into your house to infest.
Since bed bugs can live without feeding for up to a year, even if you left your clothing in the luggage, they could still be alive and ready for a feast. If you come across even one single bug, you need to treat your home. One leads to multiple.
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