Dealing With Bed Bug Infestations - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Dealing With Bed Bug Infestations

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A recent newsletter from the WSU's Yakima extension warns about the dangers of bed bug infestations in your home.


Bed bugs are oval, flat insects, no thicker than a piece of paper; and they're about a quarter-inch long and rusty-red or brown in color.

Bed bugs have piercing, sucking mouths which they use to bite you while your sleeping, causing red welts on your skin.

One local exterminator says bed bugs will produce two to five babies after feeding on your blood, and they can live for up to 500 days without feeding.


Bob York, the owner of York's Exterminating, says he has personally seen and treated ten cases of bed bug infestations in Yakima alone.

And York says bed bugs often plague people who frequently travel -- picking up bed bugs at motels, and then bringing them home. York says bed bugs can even be found on luggage racks in motels.

And even more proof they're so mobile, bed bugs often move from room to room by passing through electrical sockets.


York says bed bugs were an insect brought to the colonies from England, because there weren't any cases of bed bugs in the United States until the 16th century.

He also says bed bugs disappeared for 40 or 50 years, until suddenly, five years ago more and more infestations were discovered.


A bed bug infestation often requires chemical treatment by an exterminator. But short lived pesticides and long-lived insects means bed bugs can bite again.

York's Exterminating uses a "crack and crevice" treatment to isolate and neutralize colonies of bed bugs. And York says he works closely with Mike Bush, an anemologist at WSU's Yakima Extension. Bush has helped York diagnose several cases of bed bugs in Yakima.

As for home treatments, York says he often recommends people seal their mattress in a plastic cover, but there is no replacement for using pesticides.

Washing your sheets often can help prevent bed bugs from spreading, but they often dwell in crevices in a mattress, which can not be washed.

York also says his grandparents would use home remedies like putting turpentine in a tuna dish under each bed post -- but he says the bed bugs learned to crawl on the ceiling in order to drop down onto the bed.

York says most people do not realize they have a case of bed bugs until it is severe, so if you have any questions you can call a local exterminator to analyze a possible infestation at your home.


Some warning signs to look out for if you think you may have bed bugs:

You'll see red bite marks and welts on your skin.

You can see small, dark specs on your mattress, which can be the bed bugs themselves or their feces.

And York says bed bugs can also give off a sweet odor -- which he says smells like raspberries.