The Main Stream

Sep 13, 2010 8:14 AM

Bed Bug infestations on the rise in Tucson

TUCSON - Bed bugs are on the move across the country with cities like New York now seeing thousands of complaints a year.

Bed bug infestations are also up in Tucson. This year, the bugs have crawled into homes, apartments and hotel rooms across Southern Arizona.

The Pima County Health Department says they have already had more reports of bed bugs in 2010 than in all of last year.

Pest control companies are also noticing the upward trend.

Essential Pest Management says they have seen a 60 to 70 percent increase in bed bug calls in the last 12 months.

"Right here you can see this, this is a baby, that just hatched, you can kind of get an idea of how small they are, when they first hatch. I'm talking the size of a pin head," Essential Pest Management's Pest Control Manager Philip Burger said on a recent bed bug call.

"Usually you have to take the box spring off the bed, to know if you have them or not," Burger said.

Burger says most bed bug calls come from multi-unit housing and the infestations get worse when it is hot.

"If it gets hotter, the bed bugs are going to be more active, they're going to feed more, they're going to reproduce more, so the problems go up," Burger said.

The Pima County Health Department says the increase is likely because of a surge in global travel. So if you are staying at a hotel, be sure to look around before you get under your covers.

"Check the mattress seams, check, check behind the headboard, check in the furniture to see if if you see evidence of bed bugs, which could be the insects themselves or some bloodstains on the sheet," Sharon Browning, Pima County Health Department Program Manager for Consumer Health and Food Safety, said.

The Health Department also says, while we had a pretty good way of exterminating the bed bug in the 50's, newer pesticides are not quite as effective. Which means we may end up sharing our sheets a little longer.

So a quick piece of advice:

"Sleep tight don't let the bed bugs bite," Browning said.

Experts also say you can avoid bed bugs by putting your bags on a luggage rack when you stay at a hotel, never on the bed. Also, never pick up furniture from the side of the road.

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