They feed on blood and destroy peace of mind. A world-wide resurgence in bedbugs is affecting Southern Colorado, too.
They arrive uninvited and move around in the dark. Bedbugs are tiny insects with a huge appetite.
“The idea, that when I'm sleeping, there's little bugs crawling all over me just creeped me out," said Christina Duncan.
Duncan felt invaded when bedbugs infested her Colorado Springs apartment a little more than a year ago and did what they do.
"I just saw the bites the next morning and it itched, worse than mosquito bites ever itched," she said.
The apartment managers fumigated parts of the complex several times. Christina threw away her bed and bedding, then moved out, keeping quiet about the infestation.
"If you find out someone has bed bugs, you think, ‘oh you're contagious. I can't talk to you Im gonna get bed bugs,” Christina said.
Eperts say what Christina describes is acommon stigma surrounding bed bugs followed by the assumption that their arrival has something to do with a lack of cleanliness.
The truth is, bedbugs do not discriminate and can be found in any neighborhood. if they do get inside, they typically go to where they'll find the closest blood meal. Usually that's the bed, or anywhere near it. They can even be found in other furniture, hiding in spaces as thin as a credit card.
Extermination or prevention does not always have to involve the repeated use of chemical pesticides.
"Zip it up there, plug in the heater, and off it goes," said Greg, referring to a trunk-sized box in his Colorado Springs garage.
Greg frequently takes business trips to New York, which is considered the epi-center of one of the nation's worst bed bug infestations.
"It doesn't matter whether you stay in a clean hotel or a dirty hotel whatever,” Greg said. “It's just kind of luck of the draw who was in the room before you.”
Greg knows staying where other travelers stay is one way to brings the insects home with him. In response, he bakes his luggage in the trunk-sized special oven whenever he returns.
“This [is a] suitcase oven, [or] bedbug oven whatever you want to call it. I come home, I'll drive in,” he explained. “I take my suitcase out of the car, I don't bring it inside the house." He leaves the suitcase inside until the bag reaches an internal temperature of 120 degrees for a few hours.
"I think if we ever got bedbugs in our house, we'd be looking for a new house if it was up to my wife!" he said, laughing.
Experts also reccomend another method for frequent travelers:
- Empty suitcases outdoors
- Vacuum the suitcase
- Clean the vacuum
- Wash and dry clothes immediately on hot settings
Heat will kill bed bugs, and some exterminators are turning to similar techniques to use inside homes.
In the meantime, the resurgence of bedbugs is drawing national attention. Although they are not known spreaders of disease for the past two years, bed bugs have been the focus of conventions created specifically to address getting rid of them.
The Environmental Protection Agency has also recently developed a list of pesticides easy to find and use to step on the spreading infestations of bedbugs.
Code Enforcement officers in Colorado Springs told 11 News most of the infestations they see involve an isolated case within an apartment complex. Officers have stepped in if a landlord or property manager won't help renters with finding a solution.
In a single family home officers say the tenant is responsible for the cost of cleanup which can come at a cost of hundreds or thousands of dollars.
The Environmental Protection Agency has also recently developed a list of pesticides easy to find and use to step on the spreading infestations of bedbugs. A link to the website can be found below.