Bed bugs in the Heartland, not just hotels

"They are reddish, brown, they range in size from 1 to 7 millimeters," said Morris.
"They are reddish, brown, they range in size from 1 to 7 millimeters," said Morris.

CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - Beg bugs are a growing problem in the Heartland.

"There is a bed bug problem still in Cape Girardeau," said Amy Morris, with the Cape Girardeau County Health Department.

Morris said the health department gets a couple calls a week from people reporting bed bugs.

She said the bugs don't carry disease, but can cause secondary problems like allergic reactions and skin disease, so it's important to get rid of them.

"They are reddish, brown, they range in size from 1 to 7 millimeters," said Morris.

They're bed bugs, and they could be where you live.

"They can be on your night stand next to the bed, they can be behind the trim on the back of the headboard," said Chris Horrell, a Bug Zero representative.

"Pictures on the wall, they can hide in the seams on the mattress, in upholstery, curtains," said Morris.

They can even hide in your electrical outlets.

Morris said they first saw bed bugs in the area about five years ago, first in hotels and motels. But now the problem has crawled into homes, and rental properties.

"It was always with the hotels initially, but now most of the phone calls, 90 percent of the phone calls we get are from tenants," said Morris.

When someone finds bed bugs in a rental property, Morris said it can be difficult to get rid of.

"There's typically an issue between the landlord and the tenant about who's ultimately going to pay for the treatment, it can be fairly pricey, and often times the landlord feels like the tenant brought it in, it's their problem, and the tenant feels like we pay rent here, and we feel like the landlord should pay," said Morris.

In some cases, pest control companies get rid of the bugs through chemical treatments. But now, some companies are using a heat treatment. Pest control inspectors like Chris Horrell heat up the room to 125 degrees for an hour to kill the bugs.

"Sometimes it's hard to find all of them honestly, it can be places you didn't even expect to find them, so that's why we want to heat up the whole room, not just a portion of the room," said Horrell.

The price can range from a couple hundred, to a couple thousand dollars depending on the square footage.

Morris said you can notice if you have a problem by spotting the bugs, bloody fecal matter, or bites on your skin.

However, she said the bugs can be hard to spot during the day.

"During the day, or when people are not sleeping, they're hiding, then at night once you fall asleep they come out to feed," said Morris.

"It isn't because you're dirty, or not clean that you have bed bugs, anyone can potentially be a victim of them," said Horrell.

"I think this problem is only going to get bigger until we get community awareness," said Morris.

Morris said there are some tips you can use to prevent bed bugs.

She said when traveling:

  • Check the hotel bed for bugs, eggs, and fecal matter.
  • Pull off the sheets to look
  • Check the seams of the mattress
  • Check behind, and remove the headboard to look
  • Look for black spots, egg casings, or the bugs themselves.
  • Put luggage on the luggage stand away from the bed and wall.
  • If you think you took bed bugs home with you, she suggests put all of your laundry in the dryer on the highest setting for 15 minutes.

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