Highly rated pest control companies recommend ways to keep the unwelcome critter from your home.
Horror swept over Angie's List member Kristyn Wilder when she spotted a small, rust-colored, oval-shaped insect near her bed. Shuddering at the thought of bed bugs, "I immediately looked on Angie's List for a qualified pest control specialist," the Canal Winchester resident says.
Luckily, Wilder says highly rated Champion Pest & Termite Control in Pickerington, Ohio came to her home and identified the tiny intruder as a harmless beetle. "I was very relieved to find out it wasn't a bed bug," she says.
According to a recent study by Terminix, Ohio ranks as the most bed bug-infested state in the U.S., with Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus among the top 10 cities affected by the nocturnal pests.
Bed bugs hitchhike their way into your home, says Gerry Wegner, entomologist with highly rated Varment Guard Environmental Services in Columbus. "They can be carried into a home in clothing, boxes, backpacks, suitcases and used furniture," he says.
Since Wilder's scare in November, she says she leaves her jacket and laptop bag in the car and opens packages in the garage. She also covered her mattresses and pillows with encasements to repel the insects. "I'm not going to let the fear of bed bugs rule my life, but I'll make sure to keep Champion's phone number handy," she says.
Andrew Christman, owner of highly rated Ohio Exterminating Co. in Columbus describes bed bugs as an epidemic in Ohio. "Our bed bug business increased 65 percent in 2010," he says.
He suggests a cautious and proactive approach as the best way to prevent an infestation. Besides examining items before you bring them inside, he also advises hiring a licensed pest control professional to inspect your home. "We recommend encasing mattresses and box springs and using interceptors on the bed legs to keep any bed bugs from crawling up," he says.
Some homeowners may be slow to act due to the stigma associated with bed bugs. "There's a misconception that an unclean home is consistent with bed bugs," says Ron Belknap, owner of highly rated Capital City Exterminating in Columbus. "In fact, the cleanest houses can still have them."
If a home becomes infested, treatment typically involves a multi-layered attack that includes professional-grade insecticides and heating the home above 120 degrees to kill the adult bugs, larva and eggs. "An effective treatment can achieve immediate results," Wegner says.
The cost to tackle an infestation in the Columbus area can range from $500 to $3,000 - depending on the severity of the problem, the number of rooms affected and the size of the home.
Awareness is the best defense. "Bed bugs will continue to be a problem for at least another 10 years," Christman says.