Bed bugs are becoming more common | public safety

Bed bugs are sometimes viewed as a pest specific to homes in need of cleaning, but data and local expertise suggest that it is a common problem that can plague any home.

Almost all pest control experts will see bed bug infestations over a 12 month period, with 97% reportedly related to the insects, according to the latest date from the National Pest Management Association. According to the 2018 study, more than 50% of exterminators named summer the busiest time of the year.

Even if there is an infestation, it doesn’t mean an area is unclean, said Jeff Penland, executive director of the St. Joseph Housing Authority.

“A lot of people think that if you are clean and have a clean environment, you won’t get bed bugs,” he said. “That is not the case. They are so widespread these days that you can see them in four, five-star hotels, and sometimes they are overtaken by public transport.”

Penland is seeing the pests more often than in the past but said it didn’t know how it got so widespread.

The housing authority uses treatments as a preventive measure on their properties year round because bed bugs are so common, he said.

“We’re treated pretty much day in, day out, year in, year out,” he said. “With good, recurring treatment plans, you can keep pace and keep pest infestation low.”

Sometimes individuals are able to identify bed bugs on their own, Penland said, but the beetles can resemble other insects.

“Depending on the infestation, we can see them,” he said. “We rely on the professionals treating them to identify them. That makes a good point. A lot of people think they might have bed bugs and it’s a different type of beetle or a different type of beetle. “

According to the National Pest Management Association, 84 percent of pest control experts were originally contacted about another species of insect that turned out to be a bed bug.

The housing authority works with a company that uses chemical treatments to control the insects, but Penland said heat-based methods work too.

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