Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010

Don't Let the Bedbugs Bite

They may be a royal pain when they infest your house, but the bubonic plague they are not. Bedbugs struck in 2010, and their top target zones were in Ohio and New York City. In the toniest of Manhattan zip codes, admitting to an infestation was tantamount to a déclassé public shaming. Discreet arrangements to purge the pests ran as high as $70,000, according to New York magazine. (A comprehensive treatment could also be found for less than $1,000.) For an insect that carries no disease and whose bites have no effect on one-third of its victims, the bedbug spread an awful amount of panic. With local news stations covering what seemed to be every sighting, the critters spawned the first ever bedbug-industry summit, held near Chicago in September. The event was a reflection of real demand — a fall survey of 1,000 exterminators showed that 95% dealt with a bedbug case in the past year. The summit produced no bold new thinking, but experts recommended intensive heat treatment, power vacuuming or electrocution.