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Apr 7, 2010 5:05 AM by Andy Koen

Bed bug infestations growing

Pest control companies are responding to more and more calls these days for bed bugs. The National Pest Management Association reports a 71 percent increase in calls since 2001.

Locally the trend is similar.  Charles Osborne, service manager for Mug a Bug says back in 2001 he would typically receive between one and 3 reports in a year, if that.

"Now, I can do one to three a day," Osborne said.

Some have blamed the government ban of the chemical DDT for the growth, but Osborne says it's more likely the result of the growth in international travel.

"If I get a hotel, it doesn't matter, two-star, four-star, I don't care, I inspect it," Osborne said.

He recommends a quick check around mattress seams and headboard for small black eggs as a telltale sign of bed bugs.

Andy Anderson wishes he knew that information before he was bit while staying at a local motel.  His bites were so bad that he had to be hospitalized.

Anderson is homeless and occasionally stays at low-end motels in town. He knows many other homeless who have also been bitten at the same motels but are afraid to tell managers about it.

"They're not saying nothing because it's a roof over their head," Anderson said.

Full grown bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed.  They feed on humans and pets.

They don't transmit diseases which is why the health department doesn't track infestations.

Osborne says you can get rid of them, but it takes work.

"You want to basically know their biology and use that against them," Osborne said.

It may take multiple visits from an exterminator to completely eradicate an infestation.

Osborne warns that certain birds and rodents can also carry insects similar to bed bugs.  He recommends clearing away nests attached to the house and keeping bats and other rodents out of the attic.

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