Old article, but goodie, man… Gotta stay on top of those bed bugs!!! Try our Fogger and Two Gallons of Best Yet …
Talk about sleeping with the enemy.
That’s how termite technician Rodney Lewis felt when nasty bedbugs crawled their way inside his own North Dallas apartment earlier this year.
“It was a nightmare,” said Lewis, who lives with his girlfriend. “We had to move out. We ended up having to get rid of our bed and couch. It was $1,500 worth of furniture.”
Mike Merchant, a Dallas entomologist who studies bugs in urban areas, said Lewis’ misery is understandable.
“Most people are horrified by them,” Merchant said. “The most private place in the world is your bed, so to think there are bugs in your bed, feeding on your blood at night, is creepy.”
Almost eradicated before the 1950s with the now-banned pesticide DDT, the once-forgotten nocturnal bloodsuckers have been making a massive comeback nationwide the past few years, pest control experts say.
The National Pest Management Association released a study in late July that reported an 81 percent increase in bedbug calls since 2000 for pest management companies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency earlier this month issued a joint statement noting the bugs’ rapid resurgence. They warned consumers to use caution in choosing bedbug treatments.
Recently, an Abercrombie & Fitch store as well as a Victoria’s Secret location, both in New York, were temporarily closed because of bedbugs.
The appearance of the bugs in North Texas hasn’t been as prominent, and local and state health officials say they don’t track infestations because the bugs don’t carry disease. But pest control experts say the creepy crawlers’ numbers here are definitely marching upward.
Adam Romig, spokesman for ABC Pest Control in Dallas, said the company responded to no more than five bedbug calls annually before this year.
“Now we’re seeing that many a week.”
In April, the Fort Worth Housing Authority struggled mightily in its attempts to eradicate bedbugs from one of its residential buildings, said spokeswoman Alice Sykes.
“We tried everything, and we spent a lot of money trying to treat for bedbugs,” Sykes said. “Finally we just said, let’s relocate.”
Adult bedbugs are round and flat, about the size of an apple seed, and can squeeze through a hole as small as a pencil point. They are found mainly in mattresses and couches, but they also show up in wall crevices, floors and the cracks in wood on headboards.
They don’t fly – thank goodness – but are fast crawlers that can make their way onto a bed from the floor relatively easily. Mainly, however, bedbugs are hitchhikers that like to catch rides on humans and animals through clothing, luggage and bedding. They move around primarily at night but are also active during the day.
And while bedbugs don’t carry diseases or live on humans and animals as do fleas or lice, they’re still unsettling, and unwanted, guests.
Entomologist Merchant and pest control workers said that it’s a common misconception that bedbugs only affect those in low-income housing or dirty hotels. Romig said he’s heard of them in college dorms and other places where people live close together.
“It can happen in five-star hotels,” Merchant said. “People can pick it up at resorts or from secondhand furniture. It can really happen to anyone.”
The primary reason bedbugs are making a comeback is the frequency of international travel these days, he said. Federal officials also say bedbugs’ increased resistance to pesticides, as well as a lack of knowledge about how to control them because of their extended absence, have contributed to the pest’s comeback.
Brooke Dieterlen, executive director of the Hotel Association of North Texas, said she has yet to receive any reports of bedbug outbreaks from any of the association’s 150 members.
“It’s just not on our radar,” she said. “But all the hotels are concerned. They contract pest control services and are finding information on this as a precaution so they don’t have to deal with the problem.”
That’s of little comfort to Lewis. He said his girlfriend had an allergic reaction to the bugs, whose bites are not painful but cause welts that are “incredibly itchy.”
The couple, who had been in their apartment for less than two months, were forced to relocate when their landlord refused to treat for the pests because it’s so expensive.
Merchant said the problem in getting apartments to pay for bedbug treatments is fairly common because landlords often think it’s the tenants’ fault for bringing in the pests.
“It puts landlords in a bind,” Merchant said. “It’s an expensive problem. It’s $300 a visit, and it requires maybe three visits. On top of that, they have to treat their entire building, since bedbugs travel between floors and walls.”
Mary Montgomery, 59, was one of the Fort Worth Housing Authority residents who had to move because of the bedbug outbreak earlier this year. Although she was never bitten at her old digs, Montgomery said she couldn’t sleep because she was so worried.
“They’re so hard to get rid of,” she said in a recent interview. “Since we relocated, I can breathe now. I’m not worried anymore.” TIPS FOR TRAVELERS
Experts say bedbugs can be found almost anywhere. Even the nicest hotels can become infested with the critters, which can go undetected for months because guests only stay for short periods. They advise the following precautions for hotel guests:
•Take sheets and blankets off the bed and inspect the mattress. If there are any brown or red spots, they might be blood or excrement from bedbugs.
•Look behind picture frames and around furniture. Bedbugs like small, dark crevices often found in wood.
•Don’t place luggage on the floor or near a bed. Hotels often provide luggage racks and hangers.
•Wash all clothing after a trip. Hot water will usually kill any bedbugs.
SOURCE: Dallas Morning News research