KRDO in Colorado Springs: some misleading advice regarding bed bugs

by nobugsonme on September 11, 2008 · 4 comments

in bed bug bites, bed bug eggs, bed bugs, colorado

The KRDO article posted at this link is innocuous enough, but do click and watch the video. There is some misleading information there.

First, Colorado Springs Code Enforcement Officer Ken Lewis tells KRDO viewers that

“If you sleep in a bed that had bed bugs, you probably won’t see the bed bugs, or feel the bed bugs, but you’ll wake up with the little red bites all over you in the morning.”

This is rather misleading, since we know that many (and some would say most) people do not have any reaction to bed bug bites and so would have no idea they were bitten by bed bugs.

In the Pest Control Presents #23 podcast linked below, Jerome Goddard tells us that 70% of people do not have a skin reaction to bed bug bites (no mark, no itching, nothing). The other 30% have varying reactions to a bed bug bite (from small bumps to large inflamed welts).

With this in mind, city officials should not be implying that members of the public will know they slept in a bed with bed bugs, because they will get a reaction to bed bug bites.

But that’s not the only misleading statement in this newscast.

Reporter Tak Landrock ends the report by saying that,

“You will have to get rid of your bedsheets, your pillows, even your mattress, in order to get rid of them.”

This is not so.

Most entomolgists tell us that discarding mattresses is usually not necessary, and in fact, can help spread bed bugs around buildings, neighborhoods, and cities. Mattresses and box springs can be carefully encased in encasements carefully desgined and tested to keep bed bugs in, or out.

Moreover, bedsheets need never be discarded, since a hot wash and dry (or even a hot dry alone, on clean dry items) will serve to kill all bed bugs and bed bug eggs present.

If the Code Enforcement Department and the news media in Colorado Springs want to help halt the spread of bed bugs in that city, they would do well to give news audiences the most accurate advice about avoiding, detecting, and getting rid of bed bugs.

Update: the journalist who wrote this article updated it on Friday to correct the information about discarding mattresses and sheets. Please see the first comment below for details.

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This is the source of the statistic that 70% of people do not react to bed bug bites:

Gabcast! Pest Control Presents #23 – 10 Questions With Jerome Goddard, state medical entomologist for Mississippi

Dr. Jerome Goddard, the state medical entomologist with the Mississippi Department of Health in Jackson, Mississippi discusses the potential for bed bugs to spread diseases.

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1 nobugsonme September 12, 2008 at 9:08 pm

I emailed Tak Landrock, the author of the piece cited above, who has now updated the article on KRDO.com to correct the suggestion that mattresses, pillows, and bedsheets must be discarded in order to get rid of bed bugs (and in fact, such behavior may spread the problem further). The relevant section now reads as follows:

Usually an exterminator needs to be brought in and anything the bugs touches needs to be thrown out. This may be the reason why the bed bugs are spreading, people throwing out infested beds and couches, and people picking them up and putting them in their apartments.

“Avoid free couches and free mattresses and a lot of the items thrown out at foreclosures or evictions,” says Lewis. “If you see anything on the side of the road, stay clear of it.”

If the bugs are just on your mattress, you can by a plastic cover to put over the mattress instead of throwing it away. According to http://www.bedbugger.com, a protect-a-bed or mattresssafe product will keep bed bugs in or out.

You can also wash the sheets, but it needs to be in hot water above 120 degrees.

(The encasements mentioned are not plastic, but it is good to raise awareness that encasements are available which can allow a mattress to continue to be used, rather than going first to the curb and then, in many cases, going on to infested one or more additional homes.)

Thanks to Tak Landrock for helping to spread good information to those dealing with bed bugs.

2 SANDYRYE February 20, 2009 at 1:44 am

I KNOW OF A MOTEL HERE IN COLO SPRINGS THAT HAD BED BUGS REAL BAD AND THEY TRIED EVERY THING EVEN TERMINEX WHO SAID THEY WOULD NOT SPREAD AND THEY DID .THE OWNERS FINALLY WET TO A PET SUPPLY AND BOUGHT DIATOMACEOUS FOSSIL SHELL POWDER THAT IS ALL NATURAL HARMLESS TO ANIMALS EVEN HUMANS .AFTER USING IT THE BED BUGS CRAWL THROUGH IT AND IT DRIES THEM OUT AND THEY DIE IT WAS VERY TIME CONSUMING BUT NOW 3 MONTHS LATER THEY ARE GONE THANK GOD THEY ARE SO NASTY .NOTHING HAS TO BE THROWN AWAY JUST WASHED

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