Pest Exterminators Get Lessons on Battling Bedbugs
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Friday, July 29, 2011
ARLINGTON -- You know you're becoming a problem when people get
together and spend three days discussing ways to kill you.
Bed bugs, the tiny, nighttime bloodsuckers, are in back in Texas
and spreading fast enough to draw 200 pest control companies and
vendors to Arlington this week for the first Bedbug Academy of the
Hosted by the Texas Pest Control Association and Bedbug Central,
a New Jersey company, entomologists and bedbug management experts
spent Thursday through Saturday at the Hilton Hotel demonstrating
ways to kill the pests.
It was an unusual sight -- stuffed bedbugs lined a vendor
tables, videos of the creeping bugs flashed on screens and fake
bedrooms and living rooms set up for hands-on treatment
Notoriously hard to kill, bedbugs hide in mattress crevices, box
springs and bed frames, where they lay eggs. They are excellent
travelers, hitchhiking in the suitcases of unsuspecting
Heating chambers, vaporizers and specialized vacuums and steam
equipment can be necessary to kill them. It also can cost tens of
thousands of dollars for large infestations.
Session leaders spend 90 minutes in the mock bedroom and living
room showing attendees how to remove bedbugs from every piece of
"Texas is a few years behind New York and New Jersey with the
bedbug problem because they've only recently started to show up
here," said Jeffrey White, a Bedbug Central entomologist. "So you
have pest control companies that are encountering them for the
first time and are not sure exactly how to handle them."
It is hard to gauge exactly how fast bedbugs are spreading in
Texas. Bedbugs do not spread disease and are not considered a
health threat so public health departments do not track
Once almost eradicated, the bugs reemergence is attributed to
the banning of pesticides that killed them.
In Tarrant County, they have already wreaked some havoc, forcing
the closure of a Fort Worth Housing Authority property. They also
have appeared in college dormitories and apartment buildings.
"We get calls every day," said Raymond Porter of Bizzy Bees Pest
Control Service in Carrolton. "I would say we're probably doing in
the neighborhood of 40 jobs a week. And it's getting worse."
Certified Termite and Pest Control, also in Carrolton, started
performing bedbug treatments at apartment properties about 18
months ago, said Scott Young, company president and academy
"The problem is definitely multiplying rapidly," he said. "You
can tell just by talking to the other companies here.
Many infected properties are low income and house some
international residents, Young said. Residents from other countries
are sometimes more willing to tolerate the pests because they are a
more common problems in other counties, he said. So treatment is
delayed until the infestation gets really bad and spreads to other
"The problem is, you can have two bedbugs turn into 35,000 in
just 10 weeks," he said.
Other Texas cities are also dealing with bedbugs, including
Houston, Austin and several in west Texas. Brent Berg, a pest
control technician in Amarillo, said he had been in the business
for 20 years and saw his first bed bug in the field about two years
"Someone called and said they thought they had bedbugs and I
thought 'Oh sure, it's probably something else,'" he said. "Then I
inspected the mattress and sure enough, they were bedbugs.
"Pretty amazing to go 18 years and not see one and, in the last
two years, suddenly you see a lot more regularly."