Whitesburg KY

‘Bed bug’ problem affects many in Letcher County

As a resurgence of bed bugs in Letcher County continues, homeowners and business owners are being urged to seek the help of a professional pest control company before infestation and treatment costs increase.

Shad J. Baker, agriculture and resources agent at the Letcher County Extension Office, estimates the cost of treating one room at around $800.

“Bug bombs won’t work,” said Baker. “They hide in walls and behind light switch plates. It takes a pest control company that really has training on bed bugs.”

Bed bugs are becoming more prevalent in the United States because of bans on certain pesticides and international travel to exotic locations and mission trips overseas. In addition, college students can bring bed bugs from their apartments or dorm rooms back to their homes in Letcher County.

“There is a stigma associated with it and no one wants to admit they have them,” said Baker. “We’re seeing them in Letcher County in private residences and public places. Economy is not a factor. Poor people can get them. Rich people can get them.”

Baker said present day homes are often cluttered when compared to past decades, creating more places for the brownish, flat bugs to hide. The resilient insects hide in the seams of mattresses and other sleeping areas.

Bed bugs, which are sometimes mistaken for ticks and cockroaches, don’t fly or jump like fleas. They move as fast as a spider does from room to room, Baker said.

Bed bugs are usually inactive during the day and come out at night looking for a host to feed on. Some people get an itchy rash that looks like big welts.

Dark fecal spots on a mattress are a good indication that bed bugs are present.

Some pest control companies ask homeowners to take baseboards and trimming loose before pest control arrives. Bed bugs can be treated with high-dollar heaters that essentially cook the insects at 130 degrees, Baker said. On hot days, people can put garbage bags full of clothes in a car to bake in a way that is similar to the expensive heaters.

Baker said it will end up being more expensive if homeowners try to eliminate the problem themselves. The easiest solution is to take steps necessary to keep from carrying bed bugs into a house.

When traveling, said Baker, do nt spread clothes out in a hotel room. Once home, clothes should be taken immediately to the laundry area and wash and dried on high settings. Baker also advises against storing luggage in a bedroom.

“If you go to public places, be careful about using padded furniture and coming back and sitting on your couch,” said Baker.

Baker said Letcher County residents should also be very cautious about buying clothes and furniture from yard sales. Mattress covers are a good preventative, he said.

“It’s like head lice; everyone will eventually get them,” said Baker.

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