A parasite that hasn’t presented much of a problem in the United States since the 1960s is making a big comeback. Bed bugs are popping across the country, including here in Iowa. Brad Smith, owner Preferred Pest Solutions in Des Moines, says he hasn’t seen anything like it during his 30-plus years in business.
“It used to be we’d maybe get one or two calls occasionally for bed bugs, even as little as three to four years ago,” Smith said. “Right now, we’re getting several calls every day for bed bug issues.”
Bed bugs have brought a boom in business for Smith. He recently hired five new employees and even added a bed bug sniffing dog. He says homes or businesses with an infestation are treated with a mixture of heat and chemicals.
“We’re basically baking them out, killing all the life stages – the eggs, immatures and the adults,” Smith said. “Then, we follow that up with a chemical treatment. That really seems to be the most effective way to treat bed bugs.” A home treatment can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $1,800. Smith says bed bugs feed on blood, so cleanliness has no bearing on where the pests decide to make their home.
“We’ve received calls from places as varied as apartments, hotels, motels, homes, homeless shelters, funeral homes, daycares and even people who’ve had their cars infested,” Smith said. “There’s virtually no type of place that we haven’t treated yet.” Smith encourages travelers to check their hotel rooms for bed bugs and check their luggage for the pests when they return home.
“We treated a person’s house last week where they had a guest from New York City and of course that city is really dealing with a log of bed bug issues right now. As a result, their house did get bed bugs,” Smith said. Officials at Blank Childrens Hospital in Des Moines say they’ve treated two rooms for bed bugs in the last month.
Link to more information about bed bugs from Iowa Department of Public Health: http://www.idph.state.ia.us/eh/common/pdf/board_of_health_assistance/factsheet_bed_bugs.pdf