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Bedbugs are back in town


WORTHINGTON -- Bedbugs -- those creepy crawly critters that bite humans and suck their blood in the middle of the night -- are stirring up trouble in the area again.

Nobles-Rock Community Health Services sanitarian Jason Kloss has responded to three reports of bedbug infestations in rental housing units between the two counties already this summer. As of yet, there have not been any reports of the bugs in commercial establishments such as motels this year.

Kloss said there may be instances of bedbug infestations in residential homes, but he typically gets called only when they are found in rental units or commercial property.

"They're here -- there's no getting around it," said Kloss. "There are people out there that manage it correctly and people who don't. They're going to keep pest controllers busy for some time."

While Kloss said this year's infestation isn't any worse than last year's, he said bedbugs will never be completely eradicated in Worthington, Nobles County or statewide, for that matter. States all across the country are seeing a resurgence in the critters.

Though bedbugs are nocturnal feeders, meaning they only come out at night for a blood meal on a human or animal host, they are visible to the human eye. Kloss said an adult bedbug is about the size of a wood tick, while the young, called nymphs, are more difficult to detect because of their small size and translucent appearance.

"If the population is small or in its infancy, it can be a difficult thing to detect," Kloss said. "If you are seeing strange bites on your body, bedbugs would be one thing to consider."

If bedbugs are in the home, Kloss said the best thing to do is call pest control. The bugs can be difficult to eradicate.

"Home remedies, or those purchased over the Internet, are not necessarily fool-proof," said Kloss. "You really need to contact a licensed pest controller and have them inspect and treat the problem."

Kloss recommends people get several opinions before deciding on the pest control company to work with. Some controllers prefer to use heat treatments, while others use chemicals.

"Consider how bad your problem is, the cost of treatment and which pest controller will do the best job," he added.

The best defense is to keep the bugs from getting into a person's home.

"People who scavenge furniture have more opportunity to bring bedbugs into their place," Kloss said. "A person staying in a hotel that's infested is just as likely to bring them back home."

Kloss said people need to be aware of the potential to bring bedbugs into their home. He recommends people not scavenge for furniture.

"Seeing furniture on the side of the road, whether it's a bed or any type of furniture, the risk of bedbugs is there," he added.

There's also a risk of bringing home bedbugs after travelling. Kloss cautions people to closely inspect any luggage before they bring it into their home, and store it somewhere other than under their bed or in bedrooms. The farther bedbugs need to travel to find a host, the lesser the chance they have of surviving.

In addition to bedbugs, Kloss has also investigated several reports of cockroach infestations this summer.

The best defense to keep roaches out of the home is the same as the defense against bedbugs -- not scavenging furniture or electronics equipment.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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