Bedbugs Growing Problem In Midwest
KCTV 5 News
POSTED: 6:09 pm CDT August 31, 2010
UPDATED: 9:27 pm CDT August 31, 2010
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The bedbugs that Kansas Citians keep hearing about in New York City and other parts of the East Coast are now popping up in the Midwest, a health expert said.
A local health expert told KCTV5's Sandra Olivas what local residents should be looking for before they rest their head on the pillow at night.
Patches is a beagle mix that is like few others. She has been trained to sniff out the bedbugs that invade bedrooms and feed off of human blood. Her handler, Mark Lillis, said his company has been getting more calls every day from people concerned about bedbugs.
"I focus here on the bed frame, nightstand, and corners where we normally find bugs," said Lillis, from Kansas City Insect Detection Dog. "Once she picks up the scent, she will pat at the area."
"We get as many as many as 10 calls a day," said Michele Vance, from Schendel Pest Services. "We used to get one a day or one a week."
Vance showed Olivas some of the bugs, which are brown and the size of an apple seed.
"It is pretty gross," Vance said. "We are their food choice. A female bug will lay five eggs a day and 500 in a lifetime."
Vance said part of the reason there's been a rise in bedbugs is that federal authorities banned the use of chemicals such as DDT. So companies such as Schendel are turning up the heat to battle the problem with huge heat machines.
"Heat attracts them, but once they realize it's 120 degrees in temperature it's fatal -- too late -- and we've got them," Vance said.
She said many families and businesses are ashamed of having bedbugs, and that has to change in order to have a real solution to stop the growing parasite problem.
"I think there's a stigma we need to get over," Vance said. "They are not like cockroaches. Bedbugs are hitchhikers that travel from place to place so it's not who you are but where you've been."
Vance said anyone who is traveling should check for tiny black spots on the bed that look like ink stains. Also, as a matter of safety, travelers should place their suitcases in the bathtub when visiting a hotel. Vance said most bedbugs live within two feet of a bed and aren't commonly found in bathrooms.