Bedbugs not the end of the world

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By Cindy Simpson

Bedbug infestations are a growing problem, and their continuous resurgence has been a hot news topic of late.

“They are actually just now getting into our area really bad,” said Jerry Hicks, who operates Jerry Exterminating in Harriman.

The sight of one of those brown, apple-seed-sized bugs may make your skin crawl, but small infestations don’t mean the end of the world.

It certainly doesn’t mean a residence is unclean.

Bedbug infestations can happen in just about any type of location.

While serious problems may call for the disposal of infested mattresses, as suggested by the Harriman Housing Authority to Clifty Manor residents who had the critters, people don’t always have to get rid of their belongings to eradicate the pests.

“They don’t have to throw their furniture away unless it is just heavily infested,” Hicks said.

He and other exterminators use a steam method that uses high heat to kill the bugs.

“Unless it is just really, really infested, if you use steam on them then you don’t have to use pesticides. The first thing you want to do is get the bed bugs off the mattress,” he added.

Both heat and cold can kill the bugs and eggs.

Hicks said the steam he uses gets to temperatures at 250 to 270 degrees.

One treatment isn’t enough to kill the pesky critters.

Their ability to flatten paper thin allows them to hide just about anywhere.

“You cannot treat just one time, not for bed bugs. They’ll get in outlet covers. They are everywhere,” Hicks said.

Websites dedicated to inform unsuspecting victims of hotel infestations have popped up, and pest control agencies have detailed information out there on how to control and stop infestations.

At bedbugregistry.com, viewers can see where guests have reported bed bugs by typing in a suspect hotel name or a street, city and state address.

And recently, a bedbug outbreak was reported in two rooms at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. The bugs were found in sleeper chairs used by visitors.

One place they are not is Roane Medical Center in Harriman, Hicks insisted.

Hicks said he works hard to make sure it stays that way.

Schools can also become infested.

Hicks said he’s gotten calls from teachers who said they believe they’ve seen the bugs in children’s backpacks.