After some 50 years of dormancy, bedbugs reemerged in the United States in the late 1990s. The number of infestations has increased dramatically over the last 15 years, and contrary to what most people think, even the cleanest of homes can be affected.
Experts aren’t exactly sure what caused the resurgence, but there are theories. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency suspects the causes include greater domestic and foreign travel, lack of knowledge about preventative and control measures, and increased resistance to pesticides.
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About Bed Bugs
Bed begs do not spread disease, but they do bite humans, causing sores that can be itchy and uncomfortable. However, it is difficult to detect the presence of bedbugs from bites alone. Sometimes the bites look like mosquito or spider bites, sometimes they look like rashes, and other times there is no reaction at all.
The best way to find out if you have bed bugs is to look for physical signs. Bed bugs can be tough to spot, due to their small size, but they’re not undetectable. You can also look for their eggs, excrement and other signs on your mattress and bedding. For more information on what to look for, read the full EPA list of signs.
Bed bugs tend to hide in mattresses, bed frames and bed sheets, but in severe cases of infestation they can be found almost anywhere. The tiny bugs can burrow in furniture cushions, clothing, towels, electrical appliances and curtains.
Cost of Bed Bug Exterminators
Bed bug extermination is a difficult and complex process, so professional service is not cheap.
Budget about $250 to $500 for a professional inspection and consultation. The bed bug exterminator will visit your home and do a detailed inspection to assess the severity of the problem, checking not just bedding but also clothing, drawers, wall cracks and any other tiny crevices where bed bugs might live.
Bed bug extermination usually costs $500 to $1,000 per room. The price depends mostly on the severity of the problem, although rates vary from one company to the next and one geographic location to another.
The other major cost you might incur is the loss of valuables. If the infestation is severe, you may have to throw out items like mattresses, headboards and bedding. However, any good exterminator will try everything possible to save your belongings before suggesting that step.
Choosing an Exterminator
There are tens of thousands of exterminators in the United States, so it can be very difficult to choose one. Here are some tips for weeding out the less desirable companies and finding a reputable one that will resolve the issue for a fair price.
- Make sure any company you hire is licensed by the state to apply pesticides. Visit the National Pesticide Information Center to find the name of the licensing agency in your state.
- Find out if the company is a member of industry organizations such as the National Pest Management Association, QualityPro and/or the bedbugFREE network, all of which screen pest control companies. The bedbugFree network is the best, because it means the company is also a member of the other two organizations.
- Choose a company that minimizes the use of pesticides using Integrated Pest Management (IPM) principles. This multi-faceted approach is safer, environmentally responsible, and it decreases the chances that your valuables will have to be thrown out and replaced.
- Check the company’s track record with consumer organizations like the Better Business Bureau.
- Ask for references and check them.
- Get a written quote before hiring any company, and make sure you understand all of the charges. Question anything that doesn’t make sense.