KANSAS CITY, Missouri – Metro pest control companies say they saw an increase in bed bug infestations during the pandemic.
After a 2017 study found that bed bugs in the United States had developed resistance to neonicotinoids, the most widely used insecticide in the world, discussions sparked worldwide about how to combat the growing immunity of these blood-sucking pests.
Jay Everitt, technical director at Rottler Pest Solutions in Kansas City, said the company will use whatever means necessary to control the bugs, including heaters, silica gel, HEPA vacuums, pressure sprayers, dusters, mattress covers and a product called “Climbups” . and even dogs.
Climbups are round bowls that can be placed under a bed post to prevent bed bugs from migrating onto the mattress. It forces them to crawl into the bowl before they reach the bed leg and traps them in the process.
“You’re making an island out of your bed,” he said. “Some people also use this to check in apartment buildings. They’ll just randomly drop them all around the building, and that’s one way of catching and harvesting beetles. “
Everitt said these are especially helpful in places like long-term health facilities because caregivers can check them on a daily basis to monitor where the bed bugs are accumulating.
Mike Rottler, president of the pest control company, said they have also reached out to bed bug sniffer dogs to help identify places around the house that they may be present.
“He is able to find the smell of bed bugs and where bed bugs are much faster and more common than humans,” he said.
Heat is also an effective method of removing bed bugs, Everitt said, because exterminators can use fans to keep the bugs from migrating to higher areas and fleeing the heat.
“The natural habit of bed bugs is that they just hide and hang around in turbulent air,” he said.
He said this helps focus the insects in one area, which makes the heat treatment even more effective than if the fans weren’t used.
Kansas City resident Maria Kellogg said she and her friend found bed bugs in their vrbo during a trip to Marco Island, Florida.
“My friend, she went to bed in her room and I go to my room and pull down the covers and see two bugs on my pillow,” she said. “I think, ‘You know, it’s Florida, maybe there are only bugs. It’s Florida. It’s damp, whatever. “
Kellogg said she didn’t wake her friend right away because she wasn’t sure whether or not the bugs she found were actually bed bugs.
“I mean, I can see them crawling,” she said. “I look around, but I still don’t want to wake my boyfriend. I don’t want to be too dramatic if it really isn’t. “
It wasn’t until she did some research that her curiosity panicked.
“I woke you up [friend] up and there were some in her bed, not as many as mine, ”Kellogg said. “We only found one couple in the living room and then we sat in the dining room and I got up and there was one on the chair I was sitting on.”
Kellogg said she and her friend had left the Vrbo to find a hotel, but quickly realized they could not bring their belongings into the building.
“I can’t go to a hotel and take all of my belongings that were on the bed,” she said. “I can’t go to a hotel if I haven’t washed my clothes.”
Ultimately, she said she had decided to stow the entire suitcase with everything in it.
“I just couldn’t take the risk,” she said. “I knew if I got home and had a little itch or something, I would be worried for six months before I knew exactly.”
“You were on the blankets yourself, that’s why it was so gross to see it on the pillow, the first thing I saw. Luckily I was paying attention because if it’s not you, you know, you are really tired and you jump into bed, a person might not have noticed. “
Everitt said exterminators can use HEPA vacuums to remove bed bugs in large, concentrated groups because they are strong and can remove the eggs as well as adults.
“If we went into a unit and they were fat on the bed, we’d take these [vacuums] and remove 80 to 85% of those flaws with this HEPA teat, ”he said.
Of all the tips and tricks, Everitt said, Rottler’s favorite is to use a silica gel dust product since bed bugs are unable to become resistant to it.
“It’s a desiccant that actually cuts the exoskeleton, helping them dehydrate and dry out,” Everitt said.
Bed bug exoskeletons protect and hydrate them. Silica dust destroys the waxy layer of the bed bug’s exoskeleton, causing the beetles to dry out and die of dehydration.
Silicate dust is particularly effective because, unlike some insecticides that must be ingested by the insects to work, desiccants are safe, low-toxicity, and penetrate the crevices where bed bugs hide.
Everitt said exterminators can provide mattress covers to customers who are afraid of being bitten at night.
“The insect cannot penetrate it,” he said. “You can’t get bitten through, so get your $ 2,000 mattress as far as you can.”
From now on, Kellogg said she would take more precautions when traveling.
“I’ll put my suitcase in front of the door when I enter the place or whatever,” she said. “It sounds extreme, but do that and check it out carefully before I unpack anything.”
Despite the growing immunity of bed bugs, exterminators have a large arsenal to help control the infestation.
“We just use a set of tools in a toolbox to investigate these errors,” said Everitt.
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