Julie Haan, environmental specialist with the Hendricks County Health Department, said bed bugs are becoming a growing problem here.
“There has been a resurgence of bed bugs in the last four years,” Haan said. “People are traveling more and there is a lack of understanding that has a lot to do with it.”
She said most people have never even seen a bed bug.
“We’ve had people bring in beetles and think they are bed bugs,” she said. “The first thing you have to do is make sure you are dealing with bed bugs.”
Haan said the best way to eradicate a bed bug infestation is to call a professional pest control specialist.
“We don’t normally tell people to treat them themselves,” she said. “It’s better to have a licensed professional to apply a pesticide. They know where to look and where they hide.”
Larry Lobdell of the Marion County Health Department said the bed bugs are becoming resistant to over-the-counter treatments.
“But your vacuum cleaner is your first line of defense,” he said. “I don’t like to recommend chemicals. I would also like to emphasize that over-the-counter sprays or bed bug bombs are of little or no use. Most bugs are now resistant strains of bugs.”
He said if a chemical touches them but doesn’t kill them, it will make them stronger.
“The professionals have chemicals that do kill them,” he said. “That’s why I recommend using professionals, if you can afford it.”
There are several types of treatments — all coming with different price tags.
“And anybody can get bed bugs,” Haan said. “They’re great hitchhikers. If you go to a hotel with a slight infestation, you can bring them home with you. And we have found them throughout the county — in residences, hotels, motels, conference centers, and hospitals. We get quite a few calls from the ERs with reports.”
A mattress and box springs can be encased in a special cover and exclusion devices can be used so the bugs can’t climb up the legs of the bed, Lobdell said.
“These bugs don’t fly, they have to crawl,” he explained. “Two sided tape works well. You can make a barrier on the leg of the bed so they can’t climb across.”
Falling under the category of “it’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it,” Lobdell said he takes precautions daily so he doesn’t take the bugs back to his own home. When returning from a trip, he said he leaves his suitcase in the garage and washes all clothing before bringing it inside.
Haan can provide information on bed bugs to local residents. She encourages education when it comes to eradicating the pests. The information she offers has been published by the Department of Entomology at the Purdue Extension. (The entire four-page publication will accompany this article on the Hendricks County Flyer website at www.flyergroup.com.)
For more information, call the Hendricks County Health Department at 745-9217 or visit the website at www.co.hendricks.in.gov. To request information on bed bugs, e-mail Haan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Managing bed bugs
BED BUG DON’TS
n Use a bug bomb or fogging device.
n Permanently vacant a room after a pesticide treatment. The bed bugs will either go dormant or crawl off to the next room to find you. Stay out of the room for at least four hours, then live in it.
n Use a pesticide that is not “listed” for bed bugs.
BED BUG MUST DO’S
n Buy zippered mattress covers and encase both mattress and box springs. Tape over any rips that may occur from handling and tape over the zipper as well. Leave in place for a year.
n Kill all bed bugs in bed frame either with alcohol, steam, or manually with wet wipes.
n Don’t let anything touch the floor or wall (blankets or covers). Make the bed or couch an island.
n Put caster cubs, jar lids, or pie pans under legs of bed or couch. Put boric acid power, diatomaceous earth, or dishwashing liquid in them.
BED BUG SHOULD DO’S
n Wash and dry all clothes and bed linens and anything else that has touch the floor or bed.
n Bag anything else that has been on the floor. Either leave the bag for a year or put a “listed” no-pest strip in the bag for three weeks.
n If you must purchase pesticides, buy them from a pest control company rather than a retail store.
n Hire a licensed pest control operator to treat your home or apartment.
BED BUG HELPFUL TO DO’S
n Put out sticky pads to monitor activity.
n Put double stick tape on all furniture legs.
n Spray all baseboards with a “listed” pesticide. Spray furniture legs. Spray night stands or other furniture near the bed or couch. Perhaps spray floor area around bed or couch.
BED BUG USELESS TO DO’S
n Move to another location. They are already in your furniture. They will travel with you.
n Throw out furniture (unless heavily infested or ripped.)
n Nothing. Doing nothing is not an option. Bed bugs are not a seasonal pest, nor do they care about how clean your house is. Once you have them, they have to be dealt with.