Anti-bed bug weapons on display in Rosemont

September 27, 2011 4:51:12 AM PDT
Bed bugs have become an increasing problem at hotels across the country. This week, dozens of experts invaded Chicago to gather for a summit about how to deal with those pesky bugs. They have some innovative ways to get rid of them.

They are adaptable and not all pesticides work on them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions residents to get professional help for bed bugs. The agency found over 100 people got sick and one woman died after using bed bugs pesticides.

Experts in town this week are swapping information about the latest techniques to keep bed bugs at bay.

The little guys are the stuff of nightmares. Bed bugs can range from the size of a sesame seed to the size of an apple seed. Their food source is you -- so what better place to get to you than those overnight hours when we're sleeping? It's a veritable buffet for the bugs. As disturbing as that notion may be, they are not life threatening.

"There is awareness of this pest, but people are freaked out and the wrong messages are sticking," said bed bug central/entomologist Allison Taisey.

Pest control specialists will swarm Rosemont for the next two days for the Bed Bug University North American Summit.

To start, there are special detections devices. There is a kind of coaster for your bed leg: the bugs can crawl in but can't crawl out. There is an active monitor, which emits heat and CO2 like a person, irresistible to bed bugs.

Mattress and bed spring covers will allow you to see the bugs, as there are no nooks and crannies to hide.

To control the insects:

  • Heat has proven effective if the item or area is heated to 120 degrees for an hour.
  • There are portable heaters for rooms.
  • And there is a device to kill any bed bugs you make have picked up on your journey.

Experts say the key to detecting and controlling the bugs is getting professional help.

"They're really hard to find for one thing, and the products we have available to us?it takes a trained professional to use them," said Taisey.

The Safer Pest Control Project has been monitoring pest activity in the Chicago area for 17 years. The project reports bed bugs are particularly a problem in multiple-dwelling structures -- public and private.

The project's executive director says, while the beds bug may not lead to the health problems of other pests, controlling these particular bugs can be more expensive.

"bed bugs, they don't discern between any economics, cleanliness. It's like, you are the food, so you are like the most delicious thing they've ever met. They need you to survive," said Safer Pest Control's Rachel Lerner Rosenberg.

The bugs can be hard to see. The marks can be hard to see. And some people don't react to bed bugs -- so some people may not know they have been bitten.

Some good things to know: they don't fly, they don't jump and they are not known to carry disease.

Bed bug information:

Bed Bug Central

City of Chicago

Safer Pest Control Project

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