Bed bugs bite … again |

Bed bugs bite … again

Alex Miller

VAIL – The mountain pine beetle may be making a nuisance of itself in local forests, but a more insidious critter may be getting into bed with us, literally. Bed bugs are back, with infestations being reported from New York to Denver to, yes, Vail.”We average probably a call a day,” said Dale Nesbit at Mountain Pest Control in Vail, referring to local requests for bed-bug extermination. “It’s been getting worse and worse over the past two years.”Ray Merry, director of the Eagle County Environmental Health Department, said he’s not aware of any large-scale problem, but said there has been an increase.”I haven’t seen people freaking out about them being all over the place in Eagle County,” he said. “They’re pretty much all over the place, just like mites.”They do not appear to be affected by altitude, Merry said. Bedbugs aren’t known to transmit disease, but their diet consists exclusively of blood – mostly from humans, chickens and bats. Some scientists attribute the rise of bedbugs to a reduction of the use of DDT, a pesticide in wide use after World War II but later banned in the U.S. because of its impacts on the environment. Whatever the case, the bugs like to travel, and they can make their way in suitcases or in clothes from one place to another. They’re also small, shy and mostly nocturnal, and the only indication of their presence is the row of bites they leave on the skin or the blotches of blood they leave on bedding. “They get into nooks and crannies, into electrical receptacles and even headboards, where they butt up against the wall,” Nesbit said. Getting rid of them isn’t easy, he said, since using pesticides on mattresses and bedding isn’t a good idea. Nesbit’s company tackles the problem with steam, which he said kills the eggs as well as the bugs.It’s a pretty labor-intensive process, he said.”You need to launder bedding in very hot, high-detergent water and do a thorough inspection of the whole place,” Nesbit said, adding that he’s treated bedbug problems in some “pretty nice spots” locally.While bedbugs can be present in the cleanest of places, Merry said it’s a good idea to launder sheets in hot water and follow basic hygiene precautions.”It seems like anywhere you go, you could end up with them,” he said. Places like hotels, apartment buildings and other structures with multiple units are particularly vulnerable, since bedbugs can easily migrate from room to room.”I feel sorry for the lodge owners,” Nesbit said. “(The bugs) get brought in, and they don’t know about it. They don’t know they’re there until it’s too late.”Alex Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14625, or Daily, Vail, Colorado

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