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How to Deal with New Hampshire's Bedbug Infestation

August 23, 2010

MANCHESTER, N.H. - Manchester recently made a list of the top 10 most bedbug-infested cities in the United States, and problems have been reported in Laconia and other parts of the Granite State as well. Bedbug expert Dr. Dini Miller says the resurgence of the biting pests worldwide is the most widespread in the past century, extending beyond seedy hotel rooms.

"They've gotten established in single-family homes and, even worse, in multi-unit housing where they're particularly difficult to get rid of. We have the possibility of bedbugs moving from one apartment unit to another, or one hotel room to another."

Miller, an associate professor of Urban Pest Management at Virginia Tech, says it's important not to go after the bugs with chemical insecticides on your own without calling a professional; the Environmental Protection Agency has expressed concerns over exposing children to such chemicals. Miller suggests using non-chemical alternatives, like food-grade diatomaceous earth.

"Put it out in a light dusting around the base boards, around the edges of the carpet - you can actually even put this on a mattress, on the box springs. It's a very benign material, but it sticks to the bedbugs, absorbs the wax layer on the outside of their body and basically dries them out."

She says it's important to use only the food-grade material - not the kind used for pool filters, which can be dangerous. The best form of prevention is having a heightened awareness that bedbugs are out there, Miller adds.

"We don't think twice about putting our bag in the seat next to us when we go to the movies, or about storing our son's or daughter's college furniture in our basement. These are all ways that bedbugs can get into the home."

Mature bedbugs are easy to spot - they're roughly the size and shape of an apple seed. Immature bugs can be much smaller. She adds that using mattress covers to keep them on the outside of the bed is a good idea, and that while washing sheets, clothing, stuffed animals and bags won't always get rid of them, 10 minutes in a hot dryer kills both the bugs and their eggs.

Columbus, Ohio, and New York top the list of bedbug-infested cities, with Manchester listed at number five. The list is available at http://tiny.cc/whcn8.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - NH