Neighborhoods in Boston, including Allston and Brighton, have reported a surge in bedbug complaints
, especially as the parasites have become more prevalent in large cities across the U.S. in recent years.
During a seminar addressing the growing number of bedbug infestations in the city, Jonathan Boyar, principal of Ecologic Entomology
, spoke to 20 residents and landlords at the Boston Public Library in Copley Square on Feb. 22, 2010 about how to identify and eradicate bedbugs
Many neighborhoods in Boston have had a rise in the number of complaints during the last three years, with Allston and Brighton just behind East Boston for the most. Housing Commissioner Dion Irish of the Inspectional Services Department said places with a large number of renters tend to see more bedbugs. But he said the problem has improved since before when 75 percent of complaints citywide came from Allston and Brighton. “It’s a highly transient place. It’s always going to be a problem,” Irish said in regards to the large college student population that contributes to high resident turnover.
Problems occur when residents take used furniture from the street, but Boyar said bedbugs can also come into buildings from clothing, luggage and other belongings. He urged the audience to avoid Dumpster diving and buying antiques, and to check rooms when staying at hotels.“The nicest hotels in America can have bedbugs. It’s not just seedy hotels,” Boyar said.
When there is suspicion of an infestation
, Boyar recommended calling a reputable pest management company
right away for an inspection that can cost anywhere from $250 to $500. He said the best pest control companies send at least two people to inspect the entire residence, but do not guarantee pest eradication because it is impossible to do so.
“If you don’t have folks going through this level of treatment, you’re going to have problems. This stuff is tedious,” Boyar said. “The guys that do this stuff love it. They can’t wait to see which one is worse than the next.”
Inspectors will check all crevices and furniture and if it is badly infested, they may suggest disposing of furniture, covering it with a plastic covering before bringing it outside. Clothing and other infested belongings can also be thrown in the dryer because bedbugs cannot survive conditions over 140 degrees.
While inspectors may use a pesticide, Boyar said to avoid over-the-counter bug sprays because they can “make a mess of the problem” since they don’t do a good job of killing all of the bugs. He also said that sometimes the bugs develop a tolerance of the over-the-counter sprays.
Landlords who own buildings with many infestations may consider fumigation or thermal treatments, but these can be costly. Bedbugs can crop up in the most unexpected places. Boyar showed a videotape of bedbugs — they typically hide in small crevices until coming out at night to feed on humans. “They have a tendency to cluster. They’re looking for the same sort of environment,” Boyar said.
That environment is typically close to the bug’s food source, such as mattress seams, box springs, curtains or under baseboards and carpets. While they prefer warm surfaces, Boyar said bedbugs have been found on cool metal surfaces and can survive for a year without a meal, but tend to feed every two to four days.
What also makes bedbugs hard to detect
, Boyar said, is that in most cases, people do not feel the bite while they are sleeping. And after it finishes feeding, the insect crawls away to digest its meal. Those who are bitten wake up to a row of bites that may appear the next morning or several days later.