If you itch just thinking about bedbugs, here's something to help you sleep at night: These bloodsuckers — which don't carry disease as mosquitoes and ticks do — can't fly or jump onto your head or clothes.
They crawl. So, if you're paying attention, you will see them coming.
And if you're vigilant when you return home from out-of-town trips, you won't accidentally import them into your house.
"They don't move real fast, but they are relentless," said Jeffrey Weier, an entomologist who has been in pest control for nearly 40 years.
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Many pest control companies nationwide say their bedbug calls have spiked this year.
Weier, a Seattle-based employee of Sprague Pest Solutions, said bedbugs (reddish brown, flat and about the size of an apple seed) are nocturnal. They feed, then retreat within about five minutes to a dark wall, floor cracks and other hiding places inside beds and furniture.
They hitchhike in bags and on other items, or in used furniture.
If you think you've been exposed, Weier recommends washing your clothes, backpacks and shoes, in hot water and soap; to be sure, you can also run them through the dryer for 20 minutes on the hottest setting. Get used furniture fumigated or treated in a heat chamber.
Weier said many people live with low-level infestations that they don't even notice.
Not everyone has the same reaction to the bites — some get welts, others just itch.
Strategies to keep you exercising
Staying on track with your exercise program becomes more of a challenge with all of the extra commitments. Here are five strategies that will help you do so:
1. Consider your holiday schedule to determine how much time you have available to exercise. When you are short on time, opt for high-intensity interval sessions. You only need 20 minutes for a quality workout.
2. Add workouts to your calendar as a reminder to exercise when you're busy with holiday activities. Schedule your workouts first thing in the morning to avoid running out of time or pushing it aside for holiday planning.
3. Team up. Planning active holiday events with friends and family will allow you to spend time together while working in extra exercise.
4. Give yourself a fitness holiday gift to spice up your workout and motivate you to exercise. A new workout video, piece of gym equipment or session of an exercise class can be the perfect incentive.
5. Squeeze in exercise while completing your holiday tasks. Park several blocks away when attending holiday events, walk around the mall a few extra times while holiday shopping or do some quick exercises while you cook a holiday meal.