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This weekend the best and brightest in bed bug termination are convening in Las Vegas for Bed Bug Central’s 3rd Annual Summit. Las Vegas ranks 16th out of 50 cities nationally for bed bug complaints.

Should you be worried? Jeffrey White, entomologist and organizer of the Summit, says yes.

“2010 is when we really saw this bug take off. And 2011 it kind of stabilized, but this year they’re reporting some of the highest bedbug infestations around the country,” says White. “It’s becoming a significant problem.”

But there are ways to avoid inviting an infestation. White says taking some precautions can stop or slow spreading of the bug.

  1. Stay away from furniture with an unknown past. “If you see a couch discarded alongside the road, don’t take that couch in. That’s a common introduction point of bedbugs,” says White.
  2. If you’re staying at a hotel, do a thorough inspection before unpacking. White says bedbugs are easy to see. “An adult bed bug looks a lot like a tick. They’re about a quarter inch long, oval, flat, and reddish brown. You’ll typically find them in the mattress or in the box spring.”
  3. After a hotel stay, throw your clothes in a clothes dryer at high heat, and put your suitcase in a bag until you’ve had the opportunity to treat it for bugs.

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According to White, the good news about bedbugs is that they don’t have the ability to transmit disease. The bad news is that living with bedbugs can be traumatic.

“When you have bugs infesting your bed and that’s where you go for a good night’s sleep, that’s your sanctuary,” says White.  “When you can’t get that good night’s sleep because bugs are coming out of the box spring, bugs are coming out of the walls to feed on you while you sleep at night, it can take a serious psychological toll.”