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Bed Bugs Make Comeback in SD: What You Can Do

September 14, 2010

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - All across the state of South Dakota, bed bugs are making a comeback. The resurgence is attributed to increased travel, an overall lack of awareness and the stigma surrounding these hard-to-eliminate insects, according to Dr. Dini Miller, who is associate professor in Urban Pest Management at Virginia Tech. She says the blood-suckers can be found in all kinds of places, from hotel rooms and college dorms to apartment buildings. And now that they're back, she says, the best form of prevention is awareness.

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

Miller says it's important not to go after bed bugs with chemical insecticides on your own, without calling a professional. The EPA has expressed concerns over exposing children to such chemicals.

Miller says there are some non-chemical alternatives, such as food-grade diatomaceous earth, which can be placed around baseboards and on mattresses and bedding, and which is fatal to bed bugs; it robs moisture from their bodies. She says using mattress covers to keep them on the outside of the bed is a good idea. Washing sheets, clothing, stuffed animals and bags won't always get rid of them, but ten minutes in a hot dryer kills both the bed bugs and their eggs.

Clark Hepper, administrator for the South Dakota Department of Health, says that when you are on the road there are some precautions travelers can take.

"Store your luggage and your personal items not on the floor, maybe by hanging them. Store them in a manner that they aren't going to come in contact with the floor."

Mature bed bugs are roughly the size and shape of an apple seed, although immature ones can be much smaller.

Dick Layman, Public News Service - SD