Bed Bugs Beware! U.S. Battles Bloodsucking Pests

"They actually were never completely gone," he said Sorkin. "They were probably in low populations in various cities, and with ease of transportation, people taking vacations and not really knowing about bedbugs at all, the population seemed to increase invisibly until people started wondering what all these bites were. Or what all these insects were crawling all about. And also many people don't know what they look like."

We asked Sorkin how, on a day-to-day basis, bed bugs transfer from place to place.

"There's many ways actually," Sorkin said. "One way is the movement of bed bugs between apartments. People can carry bedbugs on clothing, materials on cases and boxes, whatever is infested. And those items are carried from one place to another. Some [bugs] can live an entire year without feasting on blood. And while they're not believed to transmit disease, they do carry a stigma."

After bed bugs were spotted in Rinaldi's apartment, Ken Unger's extermination team moved in. They use a treatment called ThermaPure Heat, an alternative to chemical treatments.

They cook the bugs, by essentially turning a house into a dry sauna.

Baking Bed Bugs Alive

First, plastics and anything that can melt are removed. Then heaters and blowers are brought in and turned on. The windows are covered in foil and the temperature cranked up.

Heat monitors and thermal imaging cameras gauged the heat as Rinaldi's place turned into an oven.

When the temperature reaches at least 120 degrees throughout the home and stays there for nearly two hours, all of the bed bugs should roast to death.

The heat stirs up the bugs, making them hop around. Then it dries out their bodies, baking them. Then they stop scurrying for good.

For Rinaldi, that brought some relief.

But for Cruiser and Freedom, the work isn't finished. It's off to another apartment, where a full day of sniffing out those blood-sucking pests still lies ahead.

Bed Bugs: Tips and Prevention

Courtesy of Suburban Pest Control, Yonkers, N.Y.

1. Identification: Adult bed bugs are brownish in color, about 3/16 of an inch long and are relatively flat. They are nearly as wide as they are long, and oval in shape. Immature bed bugs (nymphs) resemble the adults, but are much smaller and lighter in color. Newly hatched nymphs are translucent and are no bigger than a pinhead (1 mm). After feeding on a blood meal, the immature bed bugs may appear bright red in color. Bed bugs lack wings and therefore they do not fly, but they are capable of moving swiftly on both horizontal and vertical surfaces

2. Monitoring and Detection: You can detect a bed bug infestation by inspecting for the pests or their fecal spots, egg cases, and shed skins. Current research reports more than 85 percent of bed bugs are found in or near the bed, so inspections for infestations should focus on the mattress, bed frame, and headboard areas. Lift the mattress and inspect all seams and surfaces as well as the box spring. You may need to dismantle the bed. Use a flashlight to aid the inspection process.

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