“Three years ago, we would have four calls a year (about bedbugs). Now we’re getting 40 calls a day,” said Thomas Scott from Orkin’s Commercial Services in Bridgeville.
He says they can travel on clothing, shoes or suitcases, and you may not even realize that you’re bringing them into your home.
They’ve become such a problem in New York City that some stores have had to close, and the bugs even popped up at the Empire State Building.
Chicago recently hosted the first Annual North American Bedbug Summit.
Here in Pittsburgh, both the Downtown Center and North Campus of CCAC had to close to get rid of bedbugs.
“You pull the covers up to go to sleep every night to get away from the crap that bothers you in the world,” said Bill Todaro, an entomologist from the Allegheny County Health Department. “If you know they’re going to come out and bite you at night, that’s very stressful!”
He says motels and hotels are now training their staff to spot bugs before guests find them.
“They have a bounty on bedbugs. If a cleaning person finds a bedbug, she gets 10 bucks,” said Todaro.
Some places even have dogs come through who are trained to sniff out the bugs.
Orkin has a video guide, instructing travelers how to search a room for bedbugs as soon they check in.
Experts say you should not plop your luggage down on the bed.
“Put the luggage on the luggage rack, but take a look at it first,” said Scott. “There’s no rule that says they can’t be in the luggage rack.”
Inspect the bedding. You’re looking for a bug small enough to sit on a pencil’s eraser, and you also want to look for red or black dots.
“If you took an ink pen and made dots all over that bed sheet – in the corners – that’s what bedbug excretion would look like,” Scott said.
He says it’s also very important to check the seams of the mattress, but experts say they can be behind headboards, pictures near the bed, even night stands.
Scott says he leaves his clothes in the suitcase, and doesn’t utilize the drawers in the room.
Orkin also recommends that when you get home, bring your bag into the garage and inspect it before taking it into the house.
Experts say wash your clothes in hot water and dry them for at least 20 minutes.
If you’re unlucky enough to bring home the pests, Orkin recommends using forced air heaters in your home.
The company sets up four of them in an average-sized home and allows the temperature to rise to 140 degrees. It stays that way for four hours.
“That will kill everything in the house,” said Scott.
Unfortunately, he believes we will all encounter them sooner or later.
“In the next two years, I expect this to triple or quadruple,” Scott said. “I honestly do, and that’s a disaster!”