Monday, March 07, 2011


I have been seeing articles about bedbugs for the last year and a half or so. Last September when our family visited the portion of the family that lives in Virginia, at least one group thought that they had become infested with bedbugs while in the motel where we were staying. That definitely got our attention!

Yesterday I picked up a magazine whose cover story was about bedbugs. Title: Bug Bedlam. I thought it included a bunch of worthwhile information, much of which I had not seen before.

First thing that caught my eye: Denver's bedbug infestation may be one of the worst in the U.S. According to Orkin, Denver is No. 4, behind only Chicago and the Ohio cities of Columbus and Cincinnati. Terminix ranked us "only" No. 6 in the country based on the volume of calls to its offices.


More practical: Telltale signs of an infestation include
  • blood spots on sheets,
  • tiny black dots of fecal matter clustered on the edges of mattresses,
  • piles of translucent skins that the bedbugs shed like snakes,
  • white eggs the size of dust specks, and, of course,
  • bedbugs themselves, which are brownish-red, flat, and about as big as an apple seed.
Nowadays, exterminators get rid of bed bugs by cooking them. "[B]edbugs can't withstand temperatures above 120 degrees. So instead of using chemicals, none of which are 100 percent effective, companies have begun offering to essentially turn bug-ridden apartments into ovens and bake the bedbugs to death."

"It only takes one minute at 122 degrees for a bedbug to die," says Chris Covington, co-owner of BedBug Blasters, a Denver area company that specializes in eradicating the pests.
He says [he and his wife] decided to start BedBug Blasters after realizing that the heaters they use [in one of their other businesses] to dry out flooded structures were the same ones being used to kill bedbugs through heat treatment.

And to make sure all the bugs are obliterated, the BedBug Blasters crew will walk their new bedbug-sniffing dog, Bugsy [!!!!--JAH], through a treated apartment two days later.

Bedbug-sniffing dogs?!?


The National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Academy in Florida trains detection dogs--which are "98 percent accurate at finding live bedbugs, according to a 2008 study by the University of Florida."

A few other factoids to know about bedbugs:
  • Bedbugs survive on blood. They eat blood. Period. Blood of humans, blood of animals, it doesn't matter. But they seem to prefer human blood more.
  • In order to get their meals without you knowing, they inject you with a numbing agent, then go to work.
  • Bedbugs are "not known to transmit disease," so "their biggest downside may be the ick factor" . . . and the major discomfort their bites can cause after the fact.
  • A bedbug can survive for an entire year without a blood meal.
  • "They're . . . quick and efficient reproducers: A female can lay up to 500 eggs in her lifetime. That's why pest-control operators often say that a bedbug infestation is defined as one pregnant female."
  • "Bedbugs are easily spread. Though they can't fly or jump, they're excellent hitchhikers. 'You could sit on a public bus and get bedbugs.'"
  • Though it requires no license (at least not in Colorado) to provide the heat treatment to kill bedbugs, it costs a lot more to kill them via heat than with pesticides.

Oh. Just for the fun of it, maybe you want to read about Bob Hancock, a professor who specializes in bedbugs. His story begins in the third paragraph of p. 5 in the online version of the article.

The article concludes:
"They're amazing insects," Hancock coos. "They cause a lot of problems for a lot of people -- and I don't want them in my bed, necessarily -- but I think they're awesome."

Unfortunately for the bedbug, he may be the only one.
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