How To: Are There Bedbugs in Your Library Books? Here's How to Spot and Destroy Those Bloodsuckers!

Are There Bedbugs in Your Library Books? Here's How to Spot and Destroy Those Bloodsuckers!

Of all the places you'd think to check for bed bugs, I doubt that library books would be at the top of your list. As odd as it sounds, though, libraries and library books are some of the most common places for bed bug infestations. Libraries all over the country have reported bed bug problems this summer, and some have even had to temporarily close to take care of the problem.

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But before you vow to never set foot inside a library again, here's a little primer on how to check your books for bed bugs, and what to do if you find the nasty little creatures lurking inside.

What to Look For

If you've never seen one before (consider yourself lucky), bed bugs are flat, oval shaped parasites about the size of an apple seed. Their color depends on how recently they've eaten; a well-fed bug will be a dark, reddish-brown, but one that hasn't had any food recently will be a light, translucent brown. The nymphs (young) are much smaller, but still visible to the human eye.

Images via staticflickr.com

Signs that they may be lurking in your books include dark spots or stains on the pages where they may have gotten crushed, and tiny specs of bug poop. Sometimes you may also find corpses, eggs, or shells that the nymphs shed on their way to adulthood.

Where to Look

Since they're flat, it's really easy for bed bugs to hide, so you'll want to check your books pretty thoroughly to be sure. They'll be easy to spot if they're on the pages, but they can also easily fit into the binding. Hard cover books are more likely to be housing them (near the spine), but they can hide just about anywhere, so check your paperbacks, too.

Image via purenvironmental.com

How to Get Rid of Them

If you do find them, bed bugs can be eradicated in a few different ways. There are plenty of sprays and powders that will kill them, but if you don't want chemicals in your house, there are some more natural options. Food-grade diatomaceous earth is actually a good (and safe) bet, though it will leave everything a little powdery while it works its magic. You can usually find it at home and garden shops, as well as some pet stores (it's good for fleas, too).

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Temperatures above 115° F or below -26° F will kill them, but since most freezers don't get that cold, cooking them to death is your best bet. Paper can withstand pretty high temperatures (Fahrenheit 451 got its name for a reason), so you can put them in the oven for an hour or two, or even just leave them in the back of a really hot car for a while.

As a precaution, if you do find them in your books, you should probably check the rest of your house and your car for bed bugs. You can use a steam cleaner on your bed or the washing machine (with hot water) to get them out of your clothes. And if all else fails, you can always call the exterminator.

Now, does anyone else suddenly feel itchy, or is it just me?

Photos by CCAC North Library, Armed Forces Pest Management Board, , Pure Environmental, Brian Kersey, Alex Brandon

6 Comments

Yuck! I'd rather deal with zombies.

Seriously, as someone who had bedbugs a while ago I don't wish it on anyone. It is a horrible nightmare and there is really not much you can do once they're established.

We literally had to throw out almost all of our stuff and move because of these bastards.

For anyone who's moving into a new apartment, make sure you check everything and check for signs of bedbugs!

I've never had an experience with them but I've heard all kinds of horror stories...that sounds awful! (Also, love the Hyperbole and a Half pic :P)

I forgot to mention it, but you can also check the Bedbug Registry before you stay in a hotel to make sure you don't end up in a place that's infested. Could be the best 30 seconds you've ever spent!

Yeah it was a really shitty and expensive experience. Haha yeah it's the truth though, once they're there it takes a specialist to get those buggers out.

Wow that's a scary site, seeing the whole US light up like that! Apparently it looks like I've actually stayed at a hotel on there O.O. I'll make sure to check that every time I go on a trip. Thanks a lot!

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