'Here's some news to make your skin crawl: Bedbug infestations will explode this year, particularly in the summer, experts say.
The bloodsuckers are already entrenched in the city and, like cockroaches, tend to thrive in July, August and September, said Jeffrey White, a research entomologist for Bedbugcentral.com. "I firmly believe that this year is going to be worse than last year," White said at a bedbug seminar Wednesday. "If we combine the seasonal trend, with the bugs getting more and more embedded in our community, that allows the bugs to make that resurgence all the more stronger."
Nearly 7% of adults in the city - 404,000 people - reported bedbug infestations in 2009, the Health Department said.
While cities are particularly vulnerable to bedbugs, even remote areas like Alaska have reported an 800% increase, White said. "It's not just a New York problem," he said. "Once you've got bedbugs, it can cost $1,200 to get rid of them professionally," White said.
"The big problem is not getting bit, it's bringing them home," said Adam Greenberg, president of BugZip, a $10-$20 plastic covering that shields luggage in hotel rooms.
Though a bedbug's bite is thought not to spread disease, the thought of having your blood sucked while asleep can be psychologically devastating, White said. "I've seen people completely emotionally crumble from dealing with it," White said. "People just need to be educated. It's not going away anytime soon."
Preventing bedbug bedlam in your home
- Inspect hotel room mattresses, bedding, furniture and closet hangers for signs of infestation.
- Never put clothes in hotel drawers or on a hotel floor.
- Travel with resealable bags large enough to hold clothes.
- Use dissolvable laundry bags when travelling. The bags can go straight from your suitcase to the washing machine.
- If in doubt, don't bring belongings in the house.
- Check your laptop. The bedbugs are attracted to the heat and body oils on the computer.
- Periodically inspect cribs, mattresses, box spring, head and foot boards and under the bed for signs of bedbugs. "After they've fed at night, they go and hide in the cracks and the crevices of the headboard and wait for you to come back to bed," said Gemma Holmes, owner of the Nashville-based Holmes Pest Control.
- Check the alarm clock on your nightstand, along with electrical outlets. "It's a warm spot," Holmes said.'