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Don't let the bedbugs bite!

A jar of bedbugs

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: My apologies, in advance, if this next story makes you squirm a bit. But bedbugs are back in a big way. And they've moved well beyond just beds. They've been spotted in movie theatres and stores -- even, we hear, at the offices of the fashion magazine Elle.

Marketplace's Adriene Hill reports.


Adriene Hill: bedbugs creep out in the dark, find you sleeping soundly in your bed and suck your blood.

Ken Haynes is a professor of entomology at the University of Kentucky. He says the bedbug population has exploded in the last 10 years.

Ken Haynes: Probably the main factors that are leading to that increase has been resistance to the insecticides that we have available for controlling them.

People used to kill off bedbugs with DDT and other, homier remedies, that were also bad ideas, like pouring kerosene around the bed. This week, Ohio asked the EPA to reconsider a rule against using a commercial grade insecticide. The EPA says it could cause nervous-system problems for kids.

Missy Henrickson is with the National Pest Management Association.

Missy Henrickson: bedbugs have been identified as the most difficult pest to treat -- more so than roaches, more so than termites, more so than ants.

She says 95 percent of exterminators report treating bedbug infestations this year. In 2000, only about a quarter of them did. Sounds like good news for the industry, especially as termites are becoming less of a problem. But it's not easy work for the exterminator.

Jeff Eisenberg owns Pest Away Exterminating in New York City. He says most exterminations require multiple treatments.

Jeff Eisenberg: It's overwhelming.

The process is also expensive. Exterminating a one-bedroom apartment can cost more than $1,000. And there's a psychological toll on clients.

Eisenberg: They're constantly looking for them all night long. They wake themselves up every 25 minutes trying to find them, and they never do. And meanwhile, they keep getting the bites.

Sleep tight.

I'm Adriene Hill for Marketplace.

About the author

Adriene Hill is a senior multimedia reporter for the Marketplace sustainability desk, with a focus on consumer issues and the individual relationship to sustainability and the environment.
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