Raleigh, N.C. — Bedbugs used to be a problem mainly in hotels, but they are quickly becoming a household headache.
Donnie Shelton, of Triangle Pest Control, said he used to get about three to five calls a month from homes needing treatment for bedbugs.
“This year, we’ve been getting anywhere from five to 10 a day,” he said on Tuesday.
Bedbugs were exterminated in the United States in the 1960s using products like DDT, which are longer used.
Bedbugs bite and suck blood, but they don't carry diseases, said Dr. Barry Engber, an entomologist with the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Engber said the itchy bites can make an evening of sleep seem impossible.
Preventing a bedbug problem takes some planning for people staying at a hotel.
Engber suggests bringing a flashlight to check under the mattress, along the cracks in the bed frame and the corners of the wall. People should be looking for red spots, left behind by the bugs after they’ve digested blood.
People should also keep their clothes and luggage off the floor and out of hotel drawers.
“They don’t live on people, but they will look for places to hide, and they may get into your clothing. If you leave your luggage on the floor, they may climb into that,” Engber said.
After arriving home, people should wash their clothes immediately or at least put them in the dryer.
“A good 30 minutes in a hot cycle will knock them out,” Engber said.
If bedbugs start showing up, it is time to call a professional.
“When you begin to notice the bugs, then you have a problem,” Engber said.
Getting rid of the pests can be costly.
“To get rid of bedbugs, you're looking at a thousand or $2,000 by the time it's all said and done,” Shelton said.
Engber said it’s hard to say how prevalent bedbugs are in North Carolina because there is no centralized reporting system. Also, hotels and motels are not required to tell officials about bedbug infestations.