Friday, October 30, 2009

Bed Bugs in the News

News reports and local television have been reporting how the federal government is conducting research into the wide spread of bed bugs and the increase of bed bug complaints in large metropolitan cities like New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Dallas. The problem is clearly complex. According to the CDC bed bugs are not currently known to be able to spread any type of dangerous diseases. The EPA is taking a harder look at the issues surrounding the resurgence of bed bugs across the country. The EPA recently held a Bed Bug Summit regarding the growing problem.

The spread of bed bugs has increased at an alarming rate. Pest Control Companies in 2005 reported that on an average week they would receive around 4 bed bug call. That number has increased to 500 plus a week in some areas. It is almost impossible to prevent the spread of bed bugs. Pest Control Companies charge from $400.00 per room to$8,000.00 per house with no guarantee of success. Bed bugs are harder to control in an apartment building or condo unit because of the close proximity of the units. Bed bugs will move from unit to unit.

Bed Bugs feed on warm blooded mammals like people and our pets. Bed Bugs can since the bodies CO2 and pheromones produced by the human body creating a train straight to the feeding grounds. In fact, it is not uncommon for a person to be bitten 500 times in a single night. Bed bugs are nocturnal meaning that they sleep during the day and pray on us at night feeding on our flesh and blood. They typically reside in our mattress, box springs, sofa and couches. At night they sneak under the covers and by using their proboscis or mouth tubes they pierce our flesh injecting an anesthetic and anticoagulant so the blood will flow freely. Proteins in our body react with the bed bug saliva causing bumps and irritating itchy rash. Everyone skin type is different so depending on a person’s chemical makeup, the reaction if any will be different with each of us.

The key to bed bug control and eradication is education. The first step is to identify that you in fact do have bed bugs. The second step is to find a treatment that is going to be effective bed bug spray that is going to be effective. Research has determined that a bed bug spray containing sodium lauryl sulfate will be effective as a contact killer. Diatomaceous earth will also work as a bed bug barrier keeping bed bugs at bay. Remember that the key is early detection.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

New York bedbug complaints increase 34% in a year

New York bedbug complaints increase 34% in a year

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BY Adam Lisberg

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New York's bedbug infestation is getting worse, with almost 10,000 complaints to the city last year - one-third higher than the year before.

"There are lots and lots of people who are having a devastating experience with bedbugs," said Renee Corea, who helped start the coalition New York vs. Bed Bugs after being bitten. "We are already regarded as the most highly infested city in the United States."

New Yorkers called 311 with 9,213 bedbug complaints in the last fiscal year, up 33.7% from the year before, according to records that Corea's group obtained through a Freedom of Information request.

That probably understates the problem, Corea said, because uncounted numbers of New Yorkers call exterminators instead of phoning 311.

Bedbugs are tiny insects that live in mattresses and other furniture but can travel on clothes or luggage. They come out at night, feasting on blood and leaving ugly red welts.

Killing them may require people to disinfect or throw away thousands of dollars worth of furniture and clothes. The bugs often just slink into neighboring apartments, ready to return.

"It's a huge problem," said CityCouncilwoman Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan), who is sponsoring a City Council hearing next Tuesday on bills to ban the sale of used mattresses, train exterminators to handle bedbugs and force all city agencies to come up with a united strategy.

The city Health Department doesn't consider bedbugs a health issue, but at least three other city agencies track bedbug infestations separately in Housing Authority projects and school buildings.

Not all exterminators know how to spot and treat bedbugs, and critics say the city doesn't do enough to stop infected mattresses from being reused. Some victims may be too embarrassed to seek help, and some small landlords may not be able to afford a competent exterminator, advocates say.

The worst hot spots are in central Brooklyn, where the number of complaints in a cluster of six community boards doubled from 566 to 1,132 in just one year, the data show.

Other spikes appeared in the northern and eastern Bronx, in midtown Manhattan, in the Rockaways and a section of eastern Queens, and on the North Shore of Staten Island.

"If you look at other cities, their local governments have taken a big step to try to educate people and deal with the problem," said Louis Sorkin, a bedbug expert at the American Museum of Natural History.

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Bed bugs: Don't have them, don't want them

Bed bugs: Don't have them, don't want them
Some precautions to avoid the pests
So you don't have bed bugs at home — but is there anything you can do to avoid getting these unwanted visitors? Dr. Harold Harlan, a noted entomologist, has a few suggestions:

Take steps to try to avoid picking up bed bugs from hotels, hostels or any other sources when you or your family members travel, even to local destinations (e.g., within the same or a nearby city). Check your luggage closely if you think you’ve encountered bed bugs on the road
Steer clear of used mattresses and discarded furniture. Do not buy used furniture, especially bedding items or upholstered items. At the very least, do not bring them into your home until you, or a competent expert, have inspected them carefully for any signs of bed bugs— live or dead bed bugs, their eggs, fecal spots, or cast skins.
Consider covering all of your mattresses and box springs with a plastic cover which you can seal shut to prevent such pests from getting into them (or to permanently trap any already there).
Periodically inspect bedding and other places in your home which are typical harborage sites for bed bugs.
No control efforts (or products) are needed unless an infestation is detected and verified by an expert. If an infestation is confirmed, it is wise to consider contracting with a properly licensed, trained, and experienced (with bed bug control) local pest control management or company. They should help with effective and thorough inspections, provide you with information you may want, and carry out any needed control effort under a suitable contract.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Trained dogs sniff out drugs in schools, detect bombs in airports, and even chase geese away from golf courses, but now trainers are focusing their efforts on another type of smart canine: bedbug-detection dogs.

Today, L.A. Times reporter Bob Drogin wrote about the hard-working animals who sniff out infestations of real-life bedbugs -- those tiny, blood-sucking pests that leave itchy, painful welts -- in apartment buildings, hotels and office buildings so people really can sleep tight. This pest problem has become more than just a childhood scare tactic: Bedbugs are very real.

Many pest-control companies are now purchasing the dogs from two main trainers in Florida, who sell the dogs for up to $9,500 each. The dogs receive treat rewards whenever they alert for bedbugs, so experts caution against some exterminators whose dogs report false alarms, allowing the company to tack on extra charges.

We hope that this means the old adage will soon become a meaningless good-night saying once again.

Read the full article here, or look through the photo gallery of bedbug dogs on the prowl.

-- Kelsey Ramos

Photo: Sara, a lab trained to hunt bedbugs, poses after checking an apartment in Jersey City, N.J. Credit: Michael Nagle / For The Times

Monday, October 26, 2009