Exterminators see big spike in bed bug calls

Published: May. 22, 2015 at 1:31 AM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 4:23 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - It's a nationwide trend, visible in Tucson. Local exterminators report seeing a spike in the number of bed bug calls.

From single story homes, to apartments, and mansions, exterminators are on the run, killing the pests as the calls keep coming in.

Robert LaFrance with Arizona Heat Pest Control said they are getting at least five bed bug calls a day. The company has responded to about 100 calls in Tucson alone, so far this year.

At the Pima County health department, officials said they have received 71 bed bug complaints.

A majority are from those living in apartment complexes, but the number also includes bed bugs found in three local hotels, two nursing homes, and at least one business.

LaFrance said bed bugs infest apartment homes commonly, as they could travel underneath walls.

"They'll get under baseboards, carpet, behind outlet plates. They'll go between walls. They go paper thin, they can be thinner than the width of your credit card,"  LaFrance said.

He added that traveling is one of the most common ways to introduce bed bugs into your home. Many people unknowingly pick them up from hotels they visited.

"You put your suitcase on the bed, if it has bed bugs they'll get inside, and you bring them home," LaFrance said.

Tell-tell signs of an infestation include bite marks on your skin every day. LaFrance said you could lift up the mattress and look at the box spring. Bed bugs like to live in the wood. You can typically see black spots all over the box spring, especially along its edges. LaFrance said that is the feces left behind by bed bugs. You might also see a live bug or two crawling underneath the mattress.

He has even heard of cases where people pick up a bed bug inside a movie theater and brought it home.

Tara Morgan is a victim, living with the pests.

"It's embarrassing to talk about, but I will admit I do have bed bugs in my home," Morgan said.

She showed us all the bite marks on her arms and her back.

"Itchiness, a lot of itchiness. I'm scratching to where I'm cutting open the skin on my arms," Morgan said.

Jodie Kennedy said she found out her duplex was infested after she moved in. She learned the hard way. They were not easy to get rid of. Kennedy has already had her home treated by exterminators twice.

"Sprays, no heat yet, we have tried a steam cleaner," Kennedy said.

LaFrance said their company has found heat to be the most effective way to get rid of bed bugs.

"Heating your home to 140 to 160 degrees is what we do. It eradicates them that day. Spraying may not be as effective, bed bugs can build up a resistance to the chemical," LaFrance said.

You can get more information about bed bugs, what to do if you have them, and how to prevent from getting them at

. In the search tab, just type "bed bugs."

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