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How to Deal with Ohio's Bedbug Infestation

August 24, 2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio has become a bedbug hotspot. Columbus was recently dubbed the most bedbug-infested city in the U.S., and problems have been reported in Cincinnati and other parts of the Buckeye State as well.

Bedbug expert Dr. Dini Miller says the worldwide resurgence of the biting pests 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, who is associate professor of urban pest management at Virginia Tech, says mature bedbugs are easy to spot: they're roughly the size and shape of an apple-seed, although immature insects 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, ten minutes in a hot dryer kills both the bugs and their eggs.

Miller says it's important not to go after the bugs with chemical insecticides on your own without calling a professional. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has expressed concerns over exposing children to such chemicals, but Miller says there are some non-chemical alternatives, like food-grade diatomaceous earth.

"Put it out in a light dusting around the baseboards, edges of the carpet; you can actually even put this on a mattress, on the box springs, and 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.

Miller says the best form of prevention is having a heightened awareness that bedbugs are out there.

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

The list of bedbug cities is at tiny.cc/whcn8

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH