COLORADO SPRINGS — It's a situation you hope you never have to deal with, but more and more of our neighbors are waking up to find evidence of bedbugs. News5 spoke with a local exterminator who is working to raise awareness and to help find the bedbugs before they find you.
Right now bedbugs are a problem here at home in Colorado and in all 50 states. Back in the 80s, bedbugs were almost eliminated in the U.S., but exterminators say the chemical that was used to kill them was also harmful to people, so it was later banned by the feds. Now the bedbugs have made a comeback and the experts have noticed some reasons why bedbugs are spreading.
"One call per month and I was pretty happy. Now it's one, two, three calls a day that we're receiving for bedbugs," said Kyle Freeland, a bedbug exterminator for Just Bed Bugs Pest Control. "That tells me right there in plain black and white that it's getting worse."
Freeland admits it's work that can make your skin crawl.
"Roaches are a thing for some people, rodents are a thing for some people, bed bugs are a thing for everyone. Nobody likes that thought," Freeland said.
Finding refuge in bed seams and the crevasses in furniture, these parasites that are no bigger than an apple seed hitch hike from place to place, then lie in wait until they can crawl out to bite people. And it can happen anywhere.
"We've done $2.5 Million homes. Nobody is safe," Freeland said. "They don't care what your wallet looks like, or what your car you drive. They want to eat that's all they know."
These little creatures inspire fear across our society, but Freeland is sharing his knowledge with News5 to help you avoid these bugs from taking a bite out of your skin and your wallet.
According to HomeGuide, the average cost of removing bedbugs from a home is between $1,000 and $2,200. Exterminators with the National Pest Management Association say the top three places they find bedbugs are in single-family homes, apartments, and hotels.
Freeland says in his experience people who are buying used furniture are seeing some of the worst infestations.
"I mean you can get a couch for $50, but you never know that you're going to end up spending $1,200 now to get your whole house treated because of that $50 couch," Freeland said.
If bedbug cases are increasing locally, health department officials wouldn't know it.
In an email El Paso County Officials say "While bedbugs/lice are a nuisance, the do not transmit infectious diseases; therefore, they don't investigate or track potential bedbug/lice issues."
So what can you do to guard against bringing these bugs home with you the next time you travel?
"Before I even bring my bags into an into a hotel room at all. I'll leave them out in the hallway and I will tear that room apart for about 15 minutes looking everywhere," Freeland said.
Exterminators recommend we use the acronym S.L.E.E.P.
Survey surfaces for signs of an infestation, such as tiny rust-colored spots on bed sheets, mattress tags and seams, and bed skirts.
Lift and look for all bed bug hiding spots, including underneath the mattress, bed frame, headboard, and furniture. Typically, they come out at night to feed but during the day, they are most likely found within a 5-foot radius of the bed.
Elevate your luggage on a luggage rack away from the bed and wall, since bed bugs can often hide behind head boards, artwork, picture frames and electrical outlet panels.
Examine your luggage carefully while repacking and when you return home. Always keep luggage off the bed and store it in a closet or other area, far away from your bedroom.
Place all your clothing from your luggage immediately in the dryer for at least 15 minutes at the highest setting upon returning home from travel.
"If you take the time 10 or 15 minutes to take a peek at a room you can save yourself thousands of dollars period," Freeland said.
Bedbugs have become such a concern in Colorado last summer state leaders passed a law to clarify the responsibilities of landlords and tenants when it comes to reporting and dealing with bedbugs.
Tenants are required to promptly notify landlords when they suspect there are bedbugs present in the unit. Landlords, in turn, are required to have someone inspect the unit within 96 hours and, if bedbugs are found, neighboring units must also be inspected. They are also responsible for the costs associated with eradicating the unit of the pests.
Read more about the Colorado State Law: https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb19-1328