NYPD: Phony Bedbug Exterminator Robbing Queens Homes

4 Nov

11/4/2011 NYPD: Phony Bedbug Exterminator Robbing Queens Homes

The search is on for a man burglarizing houses in Queens — with the homeowners inside.

CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez spoke to a couple of the victims about how he gets in the door by promising a much-needed service.

On Wednesday night a mother of three was too afraid to reveal her identity. She’s terrified the man who posed as an exterminator and burglarized her home right underneath her nose will return.

“He’s real. He really acts real,” the woman said when asked how persuasive his masquerade is.

The woman said she was alone with her 1-year-old daughter, when the phony exterminator showed up at her apartment on 41st Street in Astoria, Queens.

“He said he was actually [looking] for the bedbugs. I said ‘bedbugs?’ Usually my exterminator comes for, like, roaches. So I said, ‘Okay … be safe,’” the woman said.

 The suspect went alone into every bedroom, shutting the doors behind him and telling his victim to stay out of the rooms for 30 minutes to avoid inhaling fumes. All the while, police said, the fake bugman was snagging $15,000 worth of jewelry.

Investigators said the suspect then went to another apartment in the same building and victimized a 71-year-old woman with the same scam.

Police said the fake exterminator was wearing a blue uniform, what appeared to be a valid ID badge and was carrying a white spray tank, spraying what he claimed was an insecticide.

Police said the suspect was so believable he was able to convince the superintendent of another building to allow him into the super’s apartment to spray. But he took nothing.

Police said the suspect did take jewelry, including a wedding band, from an elderly couple in the super’s Astoria building. Sanchez spoke to another victim who was also afraid to show her face.

“Now, I’m scared to open the door for you,” she said.

Tenants are petitioning to their landlords to install security cameras to prevent other residents from being duped.

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Minnesota Provides Funding To Poor Elderly In Bedbug Fight

3 Nov

11/3/2011 Minnesota To Provide Funding To Poor Disabled & Elderly In Fight Against Bedbugs

A change in guidelines from the Department of Human Services will help disabled, elderly residents in Kandiyohi County and across the state with the high costs of dealing with bed bugs.

In order to help combat a growing bed bug problem, the department decided recently to allow the costs of exterminating bed bugs and properly disposing of household furniture to be included in expenses covered in waiver programs for low-income, high-risk elderly individuals who receive state services.

Waiver programs provide home and community-based services to people who might otherwise have to move to nursing homes or other care facilities.

Tamraa Goldenstein, a supervisor with Kandiyohi County Family Services, told the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners this week that the additional state funding will help offset some of the out-of-pocket expenses for a group of high-risk people that would otherwise not be able to pay the costs.

Goldenstein said some cases of bed bugs in the county have been reported in multi-unit dwellings where the annoying, biting critters can travel along heat ducts from one apartment to another.

She said the presence of bed bugs has nothing to do with the cleanliness of an individual.

“Some of the cleanest individuals I know have had it (bed bugs) twice,” she said. “They’ve done everything right.”

The additional funds are being added to the “chore service” program for a small group of qualifying individuals in the county, which includes very low-income, disabled individuals over 65 who are on Medical Assistance and are at the highest risk for nursing home care.

“They have a very difficult time affording the types of things that have to occur in order to purge your apartment of those issues,” Goldenstein said.

An extermination process that uses very high heat will be used to get rid of the hard-to-kill bed bugs, she said.

Furniture, like mattresses and couches, may need to be wrapped and properly disposed of “so no one takes it off the curb or out of a dumpster,” she said. “It’s the appropriate way of doing it to ensure that we reduce this issue for the community as a whole.”

Most clients don’t have the money or wherewithal to take that action by themselves.

The Department of Human Services made the funding change so that communities had options “to take care of this quickly,” said Goldenstein, adding that the program is a positive move for communities around the state.

The commissioners approved contracts with Divine House Inc. and Central Minnesota Senior Care to coordinate the extermination and furniture removal and disposal for eligible clients. Those entities will be reimbursed by the state.

Clients will still have to pay to replace any furniture that is removed.

Goldenstein said there are some clients who have removed practically every piece of furniture in their homes to try to get rid of bed bugs.

It will be financially difficult for most of those individuals to purchase replacement furniture, she said.

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How Bedbugs Became Part Of The Housing Trend

2 Nov

11/2/2011 How Bedbugs Became Part Of The Housing Trend

The ghouls and goblins have all gone home, counted their bounty and returned to the relative normalcy of daily life. While the fantasy and fright of Halloween is behind us, some sobering  – and alarming – realities remain.  In light of this, we are kicking off a series of articles on Seriously Scary Housing Trends that impact the housing and rental markets.

Our first scary trend really has our skin crawling. We go to a lot of apartment conferences, read apartment industry publications and talk to a lot of apartment owners. While vacancy rates, occupancy rates, capital market and economic trends have always been hot topics of conversation, over the last year or two, there has been a new buzz in the biz that is keeping us up at night: Bedbugs.

More and more we see the topic of bedbugs popping up on conference agendas, and the National Apartment Association – one of the largest apartment associations in the United States- even has a Bedbug Resource Center on its website. Although the bedbug population in the U.S. dropped dramatically in the mid-20th century, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last year issued a joint statement on Bed Bug Control in the United States stating that the United States is now experiencing “an alarming resurgence in the population of bed bugs.”

To make matters worse, those pesky critters have developed a resistance to many pesticides, so chemical approaches to eradicating the problem could actually make these unwanted houseguests  long-term tenants.

Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, it is important to understand how to detect and treat a bedbug infestation. The EPA provides resources for residents and housing managers alike, and offers these top ten bed bug tips:

 

  1. Make sure you really have bed bugs, not fleas or ticks or other insects: You can verify your insect on their bed bug web page or check with your local extension agent.
  2. Don’t panic: Eliminating bed bugs is difficult, but it is not impossible. Don’t throw out all of your belongings; most of them can be treated and saved. Throwing out belongings is costly, may spread the infestation, and could be unnecessarily stressful.
  3. Think through your treatment options — Don’t immediately reach for the spray can: Be comprehensive in your approach. Integrated pest management techniques may reduce bed bug populations and limit pesticide exposure to you and your family. If pesticide treatment is needed, it is best to bring in a professional
  4. Reduce the number of hiding places — Clean up the clutter: A cluttered home provides more places for bed bugs to hide and makes locating and treating for them more difficult. If bed bugs are in your mattress, using a mattress/box spring encasement makes it more difficult for them to get to you while you sleep. To be effective the encasement must be left in place for a year. Be sure to buy a product that has been tested for bed bugs and is strong enough to last for the full year without tearing.
  5. Frequently wash and heat-dry your bed linens: Wash bed spreads, and clothing that touches the floor to reduce bed bug populations. Bed bugs and their eggs can hide in laundry containers/hampers so clean them when you do the laundry.
  6. Do-it-yourself freezing is not usually reliable for bed bug control: While freezing can effectively kill bed bugs, temperatures must remain extremely low for an extended period of time. Home freezers typically are not cold enough to kill bed bugs. Freezing temperatures outside may be used to kill bed bugs, but can take several days (at 0oF) to almost a week (at 20oF).
  7. High temperatures can kill bed bugs: Raising the indoor temperature with the thermostat or space heaters won’t do the job, though. Space heaters must always be used with care, as they have the potential to cause fires and serious burns. Specialized equipment and very high temperatures are required to successfully heat treat a structure. Black plastic bags in the sun might work to kill bed bugs in luggage or small items, provided the contents become hot enough (approximately 110oF for at least 3 hours).
  8. Don’t pass your bed bugs on to others: Bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers. If you throw out a piece of furniture that is harboring bed bugs, take steps to destroy the item so that no one else adopts it (along with the bugs!).
  9. Reduce populations to reduce bites: Thorough vacuuming reduces populations. Carefully vacuum rugs, floors, under beds, around bed legs, bed frames, and all cracks and crevices around the room. Thoroughly vacuum upholstered furniture. Change the bag after each use so the bed bugs can’t escape. Place the used bag in a tightly sealed plastic bag and in an outside garbage bin.
  10. Turn to the professionals, if needed: Hiring an experienced, responsible pest control professional can increase the likelihood and the speed of success in eliminating bed bugs from your home. If you hire an expert, ensure it is a company with a reputable history and ask them to use an IPM (integrated pest management) approach.

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Bedbug Repellent Being Developed But Will It Work?

1 Nov

11/1/2011 Bedbug Repellent Being Developed By Canadian Company..But Will It Work?

A Vancouver company is working to develop a scent that could drive away bedbugs.

Michael Gilbert’s company SemiosBIO Technologies hopes to thwart bedbugs using pheromone-based biotechnology, natural scents that can can either attract or repel.

“It sends out a signal to all bedbugs to go in the other direction — just reverse and get away,” Gilbert said.

Bedbugs are small, flat insects that feed on human blood. They don’t carry any known blood-borne diseases, but leave itchy bites all over the human body. The bites can lead to infections if the bitten areas are scratched, and bedbug saliva can trigger allergic reactions.

While bedbugs are not considered dangerous, public health officials consider them a nuisance.

Natural-based repellent

Researchers at Gilbert’s Vancouver lab are testing pheromones to see which natural scents repel bed bugs.

“We have at least seven now that will repel for at least 48 hours and that’s without our technology, which will lengthen that exposure,” he said.

In recent weeks, bedbugs have turned up in libraries in at least three Metro Vancouver communities.

For decades, the best way to beat the bugs was with pesticides, but since DDT and other effective but toxic pesticides have been widely banned, it’s almost become a losing battle.

“Pheromones have been used in agriculture applications for the past 30 years,” Gilbert said. “This is the first time it’s being applied to bedbugs.”

Gilbert plans to eventually market a pellet form of the products to put in suitcases or in hotel rooms to keep bedbugs away. Currently in the advanced stages of development, Gilbert said the product should be on the market in the near future.

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South Bend Apartment Residents Overtaken By Bedbugs

31 Oct

10/31/2011 South Bend Indiana Apartment Residents Overtaken By Bedbugs

Trash bins overflowed with mattresses and furniture last month at a South Bend apartment complex. But anyone tempted to repurpose the loot would have been in for a nasty surprise.

The bedding and furnishings were infested with bedbugs.

The bugs had moved into several of the complex’s buildings and were “spreading like wildfire” from apartment to apartment, according to one resident, who didn’t want to be named for fear of eviction.

“I noticed the bites first and I was thinking, ‘I’m breaking out or I have the measles,’ ” she said. “But then I saw a little bug.”

She called the complex office and they sent Terminix to look at her place. They confirmed that she had the bugs.

So did her daughter and grandchildren, who live in a nearby apartment.

“They are bit up bad,” she said. “My daughter and her friend threw away everything.”

The family is sleeping on the floor until the problem is resolved.

Meanwhile, the woman is concerned that the bugs might spread through the complex’s schoolchildren.

“My grandson goes to school and other kids out here go to school,” she said. “They say (the bugs) can travel on people’s clothing or purses.”

She’s right. Bedbugs don’t stay put.

“They are the best hitchhikers there are,” said Tim Harvey, manager of Terminix’s South Bend branch.

“They ride from place to place on clothing, luggage. They can even get on your pants and travel from room to room or be transported anywhere.

“It has nothing to do with sanitation or cleanliness. They are just good hitchhikers,” he said.

They tend to infest places with a lot of traffic: college dorms, hotels and motels, nursing homes, office buildings, schools and day cares, hospitals, public transportation and movie theaters.

Last year, Hawthorne Elementary School in Elkhart dealt with an infestation. In August, the Niles Housing Commission’s Hi Rise apartments had to call in a company with a bedbug-sniffing dog to deal with an infestation. There have been several reports of bedbugs at hotels in Michiana. And, of course, there are homes.

“I’ve actually gotten double the calls this year than we did previous years,” said Harvey. “We probably do an average of two to three jobs per week.”

Science and health

Bedbugs are small, flat, oval insects that feed solely on blood, preferably that of humans. They are usually active at night and prefer to hide close to where people sleep – especially in the crevices of the mattress, box spring, bed frame and headboard. They cannot fly, but will crawl as far as 20 feet to obtain a blood meal, said Marc Lame, an entomologist at Indiana University Bloomington.

Bedbugs feed by piercing exposed skin like a mosquito. They are not able to burrow into skin or through material. It takes them about five to 10 minutes to feed, but people seldom know they are being bitten.

“Basically their whole survival depends on getting on, getting a blood meal and getting off without being squished,” Lame said. “They inject an anticoagulant to make the blood flow faster and an anesthetic so they can remain undetected.”

Some people develop an itchy red welt similar to a mosquito bite within a day to two weeks of being bitten, while others have little or no reaction.

Female bedbugs might lay 200 to 500 eggs during their lifetime. When they first hatch, the bugs are about the size of a pinhead. As they grow, they molt or shed their skin five times. Before each stage of the life cycle, the bugs must have a blood meal. However, they can go for months, as many as 10 to 12, without eating, Lame said. If conditions are right, they can mature within a month – which means they can produce several generations in one year.

While a lot of research is still being done on the subject, studies so far have shown that bedbugs do not transmit disease.

However, the government is beginning to recognize the bugs as a serious health concern. Just last year, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a joint statement on the matter. This is because the bugs have a psychological effect on people, Lame said.

“If you think you’re sleeping with bedbugs, you are not going to sleep very well,” he said. “Which causes you to function very poorly – from crazy to just darn tired.”

That, in turn, can impair reflexes and contribute to other health problems.

“After they get rid of (the bugs), it can take three weeks or three months for (a person) to psychologically get over the infestation,” Lame said. “I’ve even had some sleepless nights after bedbug calls that were heavily infested – where they were really numerous and gross.”

Some people become obsessed and would do anything to rid their homes or themselves of the bugs, including “dousing themselves with pesticides or bedbug bombs,” Lame said, or scraping their skin with sharp objects.

A North Carolina woman died after she and her husband used several chemicals in their home in an attempt to rid it of bedbugs.

“We could all have bedbugs and survive,” Lame said, but when it reaches an epidemic and causes anxiety in people, public health officials play an important role.

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Preventing Bedbugs During Holiday Travel

30 Oct

10/30/2011 Preventing Bedbugs During Holiday Travel: Tips To Stay Bedbug Free

The holidays are a time for celebration, gift-giving and visiting with family and friends. Travel wisely this winter to ensure that you do not bring any unwanted visitors, such as bed bugs, back home with you.

Once thought to be a thing of the past, bed bug populations have increased by approximately 500 percent in the United States in recent years, according to Congress’ “Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite” Act of 2009. Bed bugs spread by hitching a ride on travelers’ possessions, and with our highly mobile society, bed bugs have been able to spread quickly across the United States. This makes it important for travelers to educate themselves on bed bugs. Becoming familiar with the bug, its habits and methods of detecting, treating and preventing an infestation is an essential and effective first step.

The facts on bed bugs:

Identification: Bed bugs are easily identifiable if you know what you are looking for. They are small, but still large enough to see. These pests are flat, oval and wingless, with antennae and six legs. Adults are 5 millimeters long, about the same size and color of an apple seed. Eggs are the size of a pin head,colorless and incredibly hard to see.

What attracts bed bugs: Bed bugs are attracted to warmth and carbon dioxide from people and animals. They feed at night for about five minutes every three to seven days. Bed bugs usually reside within five feet of a food source, but can travel up to 100 feet to find a meal.

Lifespan: A bed bug will live for approximately three to nine months if well fed, but can survive for six months or more without feeding. Females can lay as many as five eggs per day – or up to 200 in their lifetime.

Travel wisely:

Travel lightly and do not bring your own bedding or pillows when visiting a hotel. Take a few minutes upon arrival to inspect your surroundings. Here is a list of recommendations on the way to inspect your accommodation before settling in for the night.

When entering a hotel room:

2. Exhale gently across the top and sides of the headboard.

4. Using your flashlight, inspect the rolled seams at the top and bottom edges of the mattress at each corner, looking for bed bugs, spotting or cast skins.

6. Look at the edge of the carpet and baseboard under the corners of the bed to inspect for spotting and cast skins. Put the corners back together.

8. Using your flashlight, inspect the skirting along the bottom of the bed, looking for bed bugs, spotting and cast skins within the inside folds of the fabric.

10. Inspect the portable luggage rack looking for signs of bed bugs.

Upon return from travel, place all items that may have been exposed (including suitcase when possible) into the dryer, and place on high heat for 15 minutes.

With just a little preparation and some caution, holiday travel can be relaxing and you can rest assured that you will return home without any uninvited pests.

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How To Keep Bedbugs Out Of Luggage

29 Oct

10/29/2011 How To Keep Bedbugs Out Of Luggage: Remember These Tips For Safer Travel

If you are ever unfortunate to stay in a hotel room that is infested with bed bugs, then you will know how uncomfortable they can make you feel. If you are not careful they can get into your luggage and before you know it you have given them a free ride to your house.

Prevention is obviously better than cure, but if you suspect that you might be at risk of picking up some passengers then there are some precautions that you can take to try and minimize the risks of having some new bed bug pets at your home. Try not to put your clothes or luggage directly onto your bed, and if possible store your luggage on a metal luggage rack or in the bathtub when possible as bed bugs can’t climb metal or porcelain. Also, try to pack everything in plastic bags and pack a plastic bag large enough to hold your luggage.

If you suspect that you might have picked up some passengers, make sure you wash everything thoroughly in hot water and then dry it for a minimum of thirty minutes at the highest dryer setting. For more delicate items, soak in warm water with lots of laundry soap for several hours before rinsing. Other items can be put into a dryer for thirty minutes to eliminate bed bugs.

Your luggage itself should be vacuumed as thoroughly as possible before scrubbing with a stiff brush to dislodge any eggs that you missed. The vacuum bag should be sealed and emptied immediately. You can store the luggage in your garage to prevent any that survive from getting into your house.

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