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Bed Bugs 101: Every Home is Susceptible

Bed Bug
Posted at 5:30 AM, Apr 07, 2015
and last updated 2016-07-04 12:02:24-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) -- Their name implies that they're confined to your bedroom, but bed bugs can live anywhere. Hotels, offices, even movie theaters have had infestations. Removing them is a half-a-billion-dollar-a-year industry and, as we learn in this Angie's List report, the problem is only getting worse.

"Anybody and everybody is susceptible to bed bugs. They have no difference whether it's a clean home or dirty home. All they care about is that you have blood in your veins," said exterminator Jim Muir.

So what else do we need to know about bed bugs? They can go up to 18 months between meals, so if they find a warm, dark place in your home, they'll stay there until you do something about it.

"Bed bugs are something you want to address immediately or they become a problem. It's not just treating your bed; you want to check your bed frame, the carpet, really the whole room to make sure you've gotten rid of them completely," said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List.

You know you have bed bugs if you get bite marks in groups of three. They may also leave small red and brown stains at the top of your mattress. But Angie Hicks says don't panic - just be practical.

"Call your pest control company and talk to them about the process because what people don't realize is often times you are going to be out of your home for several hours, so you want to be sure you pick a time and day that is convenient for you," said Hicks.

Muir adds: "We typically do one of two things; one we recommend highly is the heat treatment. We bring in up to 8 furnaces. We heat the structure up to somewhere between 130-150 degrees… everything inside, clothing, bedding and everything.

A typical heat treatment will run you $1,200 to $1,800, depending on the method used and the size of your home. You may also want to follow that up with monthly chemical treatments, otherwise the bed bugs may be back.

You can try to eliminate the bugs yourself, but only if you're sure it's a small, confined infestation. Wash everything in water above 120 degrees and steam clean rugs and carpets with retail insecticides.

Remember you can catch the latest Angie's List report every Tuesday morning on WTXL Sunrise.