Beware bed bug extermination scams and — La Nina?!?

by nobugsonme on April 14, 2011 · 3 comments

in bed bug epidemic, bed bugs, bed bugs and travel, bed bugs in the media, journalists with bed bugs, spread of bed bugs

CBS News reports that back in September, Consumer Correspondent Susan Koeppen asked Bed Bug Central’s Phil Cooper at the Chicago Bed Bug Summit what her chances were — as a frequent traveler — of getting bed bugs.

He replied, “You’re going to bring them home.”  And he was right.  Koeppen recently picked up bed bugs on a ski trip and brought them to her home.

Watch this report from CBS’s The Early Show:

(If embedded video does not work, view on

I am always interested in the stories of journalists who get bed bugs.  They’re in a unique position to report on the experience.  (Here are some earlier examples.)

I think the warning to consumers to beware of “bed bug extermination scams” is a good one.

Besides the pest management professionals who don’t deliver or who offer to treat homes with no bedbugs present, The Early Show should also warn consumers about products which make grandiose claims.

Right now, it seems like manufacturers can pretty much say anything you like about an EPA-exempt product.  And consumers are getting burned.  (If bill HR 967 passes into law, it may do a lot to solve that problem in the US.)

However, the advice to choose “a certified dog” and an experienced handler does not necessarily correspond to what we’re hearing from others.

Many experts like Michael Potter say that canine handlers should visually confirm all dog alerts.   (We include this advice in our FAQ on canine scent detection.)

This news spot and other recent activity suggest that Bed Bug Season 2011 is kicking off.

It’s not that bed bugs don’t breed and bite all year round.  However, people seem to be a lot more aware of them in the summer months.

Google Trends shows a fairly solid pattern since 2007 of search traffic for “bed bugs” rising in summer months and falling in the end of the year.  In 2010-1011, that pattern also held for news references to bed bugs.  Sometimes people panic that more news reports = more bed bugs.

Remember, however, that the amount of attention paid by the media to bed bugs at any given time is not necessarily directly proportionate to the amount of bed bugs active in the world.

While more people do seem to become aware of bed bugs in the warmer months, and they do multiply more rapidly at higher temperatures, it is also true that a seasonal surge in bed bug news stories helps fill those boring summer news months.

It also targets summer travelers as purchasers of products to use in hotel stays or on returning home, and parents of campers and college students who may also carry the pests home.

Sometimes what’s packaged as bed bug news isn’t really news about bed bugs at all.

BASF produced a press release today (picked up today by CNBC, among others) whose title trumpets “La Niña sets scene for insect surge: Termites, bed bugs and ants will be the likely culprits across America.”

However, while the title certainly suggests La Niña will have an impact on bed bug numbers, the article itself admits that while bed bugs are expected to continue spreading, “we can’t blame weather patterns for this one.”  (I note that PCT Online also used this article but without the misleading title.)

Make no mistake, bed bugs have been biting and spreading all winter long, even when the news media was busy with other stories.

1 Carpathian Peasant April 15, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Good posting. Thanks. 🙂

2 nobugsonme April 16, 2011 at 2:04 am

Thanks, Carpathian Peasant!

3 BittenAgain April 18, 2011 at 9:07 am

Only place I can find to place a new comment. (Newbie)
Where we got them – A friend from Cincinnati gave us rides in his car & stayed in our house. Didn’t know what they were until it was too late. The ER told him the bites were scabies.
Computers – My lap top has it’s very own bb infestation. They are in the ‘lock’ hole, the hinge, & in the 2 USB ports. In 20 minutes time I managed to pull out 7 onto my leg to prove this to my husband. I have pictures but don’t know how to load them. They also hide in the screw holes, around the screen, and under the keypad. Computer blogs say bomb it in a plastic bag, then vacuum.
What worked – Steamer, foam upholstery cleaner, & a scrub brush. Must repeat about once a week.
Do you have them? – Get a can of ant & roach spray. Spray the furniture piece around the bottom. In about 20 seconds they will come to the top escaping the smell. (Prepared for a shock.) After about an hour I was able to sweep up a lot of dead bugs. I flush them so I know they are gone.
What backfired – Bed bugs were listed as a type of tick. Bought a can of Repel Sportsmen – Repels up to 10 Hrs. Repelled them out of my chair and onto me. Sitting here killing them 5-10 at a time every 5 minutes.
Bites – I can feel them walking on me after first stage, like an ant. I feel a pin prick when they ‘bite”, sometimes it’s very sharp. My bites are small flat bumps that itch.
Feeding – I sleep with a light on. Lone hungry bugs are on the move day & night. If hubby turns the light off, I wake up with at least 5 in a row. One time only I flipped on the light & around 30 newborns were spilling out of the computer lock onto my leg.
Smell – musky, the older the bug the deeper the smell.
Size – My babies have been as small as the point of a pin.
Speed – They do slow down during daylight hours. That’s when I spray & clean working slowly to get them out of hiding & make sure none get away.
Thank all of you so much for great blogs & websites. Please keep the ideas coming. Our fixed income prevents us from obtaining professional services – we need all the help we can get.

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