In Syracuse and beyond - getting rid of bed bugs is a growing business

Pest control experts say the bugs develop a resistance to certain treatments

SYRACUSE (WSYR-TV) - Glenn Stewart says the business of getting rid of bed bugs is growing, quickly. He estimates that calls for help have more than tripled over the past couple of years.

"We do at least seven treatments every day, usually seven days a week during the summer. It will level off a little during the winter, but approximately 2,000 times in a year," says Stewart, who manages Bugs Bee Gone Pest Control in Jamesville.

With planes, trains, and automobiles, Stewart says Americans are traveling more than ever, spreading bugs as they move. 

At the same time, there are more government restrictions on strong chemical pesticides like DDT, which controlled the spread of many pests decades ago.

Bugs can also develop a resistance to milder pesticides, forcing pest control companies to frequently change treatments.

"With roaches for example, the chemicals we used last year, don't work this year in certain areas. I mean in just three or four generations, it's over with," Stewart adds.

The challenge is widespread.

In Syracuse, the city school district recently hired Salt City Pest Control to treat Henninger High School after several bed bugs were found in classrooms last month. Another bug was discovered in the high school following the treatment.

A bed bug was also recently discovered in a student's backpack at Webster Elementary School in Syracuse.

"Our social workers confirmed with the family that they have them in their apartment and so we are working with Social Services to help the family through the situation," a spokesman for the school district explained. "We believe this is isolated to this one family."

This week, Stewart is planning a trip to Ogdensburg, where the mayor says bed bugs invaded two senior facilities.

"What started as an isolated incident has turned into a major catastrophe here," Ogdensburg Mayor Wayne Ashley told WWNY-TV.

Since early treatment is crucial, Stewart says convincing people to search for signs and admit they have a problem the first time they see a bed bug is important, especially for landlords.

"Communication with the tenants, that is your best weapon. Eventually, (bed bugs) are all going to be resistant to the chemical families that we have now. So, that's a dead-end street," Stewart believes.

If bed bugs are found at your office or a child's school, you can take steps to avoid carrying them home.

Stewart recommends that any clothing worn that day is immediately put into a plastic bag at the door to your home. Then, dry the clothes on high heat for an hour to kill any bugs that may be hiding in the folds of your clothes.

"I've done 7,500 inspections and I've never brought them home," Stewart says.

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