To kill a bedbug: pick your weapon

Killing a single bedbug can be as easy as rolling on top of it in your sleep. Ridding a home or hotel of its siblings and cousins on the other hand, is an exhausting and expensive task. Nearly eliminated a few decades ago, bedbugs are back with a vengeance.

They've overtaken college dorms, military barracks, apartment complexes, office buildings and even forced the closure of Niketown's flagship New York store Monday.

And they are big business: 258 million dollars in the United States last year, according to the National Pest Management Association.

Leading experts gathered in a Chicago suburb Tuesday for a two-day summit on eradicating the hardy critters, which can live a year without feeding and like to explore at night, often catching rides to new homes in luggage, handbags and clothing.

"It's easy to come in and kill bedbugs with insecticide, but it's much harder to get to the point where you can be confident that they're gone," Kenneth Haynes, an entomologist with the University of Kentucky, told AFP.

Bedbugs are very good at hiding, he explained, and the problem is finding a poison which is powerful enough to kill all the bugs and their eggs but safe enough to be used indoors.

The summit's showroom was filled with potential solutions: massive room heaters to bake the bugs, carbon dioxide sprayers to freeze the bugs, high powered steamers to boil the bugs, plastic moats and barriers to block the bugs from getting into beds, tight-fitting mattress protectors, and even specially-trained dogs to sniff out their hiding spots.

"There's so much bedbug hysteria and 75 percent of it is well-founded," said David James, whose company Packtite sells portable heating chambers designed to kill any critters that crawl into luggage or non-washable possessions like books and shoes.

"They're so bad out there and they're so hard to kill," James said as he manned a busy display at the sold-out show.

"I've had people call me and say they've gone bankrupt trying to get rid of them because they keep replacing their clothes and furniture."

There is unfortunately no silver bullet for eradicating bed bugs, said Phillip Cooper, president of BedBug Central, a for-profit educational organization which hosted the conference.

"Nothing works on its own," said Cooper, who also runs a pest-control company founded by his father in 1955.

The best thing to do is try to keep bed bugs out of your home by carefully inspecting hotel rooms, washing all clothes taken on a trip in hot water and vacuuming or treating your luggage.

If you end up picking up the critters at work, a movie theatre, church or work, hope that you find them quick and call a professional right away.

A moderate infestation can be eradicated with a single, properly-applied treatment of insecticide, Cooper said. But serious infestations can require several treatments and a multiprong approach costing thousands of dollars.

One way large hotel and apartment complexes are cutting their costs is hiring sniffer dogs to pinpoint exactly which units are affected and find the nests.

A property manager at a large apartment complex outside Chicago, Shellie Beno, got into the business last year after residents started bringing her bags filled with bedbugs.

Pest controllers would spend hours tearing an apartment apart looking for nests. Her three dogs can search a typical unit in about five to seven minutes. And their noses can sniff out places people can't, like behind the walls.

Another advantage is the dogs are much less intrusive and residents don't have to worry that their neighbors will know they've got bugs.

"Would you rather have me going through your dresser drawers or my dogs?" said her Detective Bedbug partner David Bohannan.

Sport
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

    £6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

    £12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

    Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

    £32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor