By Terri Schlichenmeyer
Your last vacation was a memorable one.
Your plans became reality. You got to see everything and everyone you wanted to see, the sights were wonderful, the kids had fun, and you felt relaxed for the first time in a long time. You took what seemed like a thousand pictures.
Yes, this was the vacation you'll never forget, but not for the usual reasons: the souvenirs and sunburns weren't the only things you brought home.
Author and Pest Away Inc. founder Jeff Eisenberg knows how you feel. He sees these horrifying issues all the time, and in his new book, "The Bed Bug Survival Guide," he tells you what to do next.
First of all, though it's difficult, don't go into panic mode. Eisenberg says that the presence of bedbugs doesn't indicate filth, poverty or nastiness: several high-powered, highly-paid Hollywood-mansion-living people are on his client list. Queens, pharaohs and former presidents have all been plagued by plagues.
Cute as a bug they're not, so it's best to know your enemy.
Bedbugs are tiny and almost impossible to see in their first stages of life but as adults, they're about the size of apple seeds. A female bug will lay up to 500 eggs in her lifetime. Bedbugs can squeeze through a crack the width of a business card, but are perfectly happy to walk over the threshold of your front door. And while they aren't known to spread disease, their bites sure can itch.
Bedbugs live in mattresses, of course, but you might not know that they're equally happy to set up housekeeping in an office chair, in books, picture frames, laptops, carpet, smoke alarms and wood furniture. So that great second-hand captain's desk you found on Craigslist? It's suddenly not such a great deal after all.
Though you can't avoid risk completely, there are ways you can limit your chances of having bedbugs in your home, including precautions, sprays and safe "ovens" that will kill them.
Still, if you happen to find a few tell-tale signs of the little pests, don't freak out and don't even think of taking a wait-and-see attitude. Instead, call an accredited expert, then take some more vacation.
You'll need it for the battle to come…
Going on a business trip or holiday this summer? Read this book first, to ensure that you don't return home with some unsavory souvenirs.
Then sleep tight. You know the rest…
Terri Schlichenmeyer has been reading since she was 3, and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.