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Bedbug Nation: Critters Make a Comeback
Date:9/3/2010

dn't try to deal with it oneself."

In addition to certain insecticides, pest control companies are getting pretty creative with other tools, including bedbug-sniffing dogs, heating a house up to 140 degrees to kill the critters and even the "freeze" treatment, using frozen carbon dioxide, said Dr. Mike Merchant, professor and extension urban entomologist at Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Texas A&M University in Dallas.

The silver lining is that bedbugs don't transmit disease and don't pose any huge health problem, outside of stress and anxiety. The latter can be significant, however.

"People who are getting them are flipping out and putting insecticides all over themselves and the house. There's a lot of stress around this," said Dini Miller, associate professor at the Dodson Urban Pest Management Laboratory at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. "It's an inhumane situation living with thousands of bugs that are in your bed. You go into your house and how does anyone manage to deal with this?"

"It's a public health threat in that it causes a lot of anxiety and mental stress and it certainly has an impact on people," Merchant added. "People are freaked out by something feeding on their blood at night."

Itching to Avoid Bedbugs? Here's How

Experts Imperato, Miller and the National Pest Management Association offer up tips to prevent or treat infestations:

  • Any time you travel, you're at risk of picking up bedbugs -- even in the ritziest of hotels. So, if you're staying in a hotel, check the bed and headboard, creases of mattresses, box springs, and bed frames for signs of the flat, small (about a quarter of an inch long), brownish bugs. Checking the rest of the furniture - even electrical sockets, surge protectors and behind picture frames - isn't a bad idea either, according to the NPMA.
  • Inspect
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