Bedbugs in Los Angeles on the rise

Christiaan Patterson

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The Center for Disease Control stated that bedbugs in the United States are a rising concern, and California is no exception.  Starting on the East Coast and filtering across the country, bedbug outbreaks are affecting hotels, dorms and residential spaces.

According to the Bed Bug Registry, a website which allows the public access to all reported cases of bedbug infestations, Los Angeles County had 403 cases in 2010, most of which concentrated near downtown Los Angeles. Complaints came from an outbreak in the dorms at USC, which prompted immediate action and awareness from school officials to students. Only five of these reports were near CSUN.

Beverly Watson, CSUN Housing associate director of maintenance, said there are no current reports of bedbug infestation in the dorms. Housing declined to comment whether bedbugs have been reported in the dorms.

Craig Lorick, a service technician for Dewey Pest Control in Lancaster said the company is receiving an increasing number of calls regarding bedbugs. He estimated about 30 reports in Lancaster over the past year, an increase over the last few years.

Bedbugs are most commonly found in hotels that have high tourist traffic. They are usually transported on luggage or clothes from infested areas.

“People come to hotels and they don’t know they could be sleeping on bedbugs,” Lorick said. “It doesn’t matter if the bed is old or new. The babies grow extremely fast. It’s an epidemic.”

Lorick said treating these insects requires fumigating the room perhaps as many as four or five times. A thorough inspection must be done of all rooms or the entire house to ensure treatment is not needed in other areas. If need be, the house or business can be tented in order to isolate the bugs.

“The reason getting rid of these things is so hard is that the pesticides can’t penetrate egg shells. We can wipe out the momma and the papa, but have to come back for the kids,” Lorick said.

A complete wipeout of these bedbugs can take up to a month to kill all eggs and adults, with costs ranging from $500-$1000 per room. Lorick’s best advice to keep them out of homes is to check all clothing, luggage and self before leaving a highly traveled place.

Because these insects are growing in numbers, The Los Angeles Department of Public Health issued a brochure on the website, outlining ways to detect, prevent and treat bedbugs in the home.

When inspecting the home, check the headboards, frame and  creases in sheets. A cluster of yellowish eggs is indicative of an infestation. Dewey Pest Control recommends daily vacuuming to keep the amount of eggs to a minimum.

There is a method to know if these bloodsuckers have taken up residence near a bed. Place a white sheet on the bed and keep an eye open for any blood stains or streaks excreted after biting a human. If such discoveries are made, call an exterminator.