Pest Control Companies Look For New Ways To Treat Bed Bugs
Story by Cara Restelli, KY3 News
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The increase in the number of bed bugs is a hot topic across the country and here in the Ozarks, primarily because they're so hard to get rid of. Plus, one bug one day can quickly turn into a full-blown infestation. It has pest control companies working overtime to find the best ways to put bed bugs to rest.
"They'll get back behind the headboard inside the tiniest crevices. They'll get behind the light sockets, underneath the nightstand and in the tiny cracks and crevices, and behind the pictures on the walls,' said Lee Thomas, manager of a hotel in Branson. "It could be beds, it could be headboards, it could be behind the TV."
Knowing all the places they can hide, it's no surprise that bed bugs could become a full blown infestation before you realize there's even a problem. It's also why pest control companies like Schendel are now receiving phone calls almost daily.
"It certainly is becoming what our industry calls a pandemic," said Kevin Lemasters of Schendel Pest Services.
They've been found in hotels, dormitories and even homes.
"It's a global phenomenon because of the mobility of people who carry the bed bugs," said Thomas.
They're hard to spot and even harder to get rid of.
"They hide; they're in crevices; they come out only at night," said Thomas.
Pest control companies are making progress. Patches, a beagle-terrier mix, is the Midwest's only bed bug sniffing dog.
"We are looking for the odor of live bed bugs or viable eggs," said Mark Lillis, Patch's handler and owner of KC's Premier Bed Bug Detection Service.
Patches has been used to identify bed bug problems and to make sure the bed bugs are gone.
"She's 97-percent accurate," said Lillis.
Schendel has used her in conjunction with their heat treatment. At 140 degrees, the heat treatment can kill the bugs and eggs in about four hours.
"Ninety-nine percent of bed bugs are killed in heat treatment. It gets into all areas where, by manually treating, we can't get to," said Lemasters.
None of these remedies are cheap, which is why Missouri State University expects to spend more than $25,000 to get rid of them in just one school year.
"We treat between three to five rooms monthly," said Jennifer Cox, MSU's assistant director of residence life-facilities and operations.
Here's some good news: no matter how elusive, frustrating and just plain gross bed bugs can get, it could always be worse.
"They're not considered a health concern. They're a pest, they're a nuisance, but they're a very-difficult-to-control nuisance," said Thomas.
The Environmental Protection Agency has approved some chemical treatments for bed bugs. We received an e-mail message from Bug Zero, a pest control company that uses chemicals. It says, while chemicals may not work quite as well for bed bugs as they do for other insects, they can eliminate bed bugs, especially when used in conjunction with other techniques and devices such as mattress encasements.