By KATIE ROHMAN
Niles Daily Star
Kenny Ray of Rose Pest Solutions in Niles has been working in extermination for 20 years. He had his first “bedbug job” five years ago. Last month, he had 40 cases; Tuesday, he serviced 11 apartment units.
Bedbugs are no longer the subject of children’s rhymes and stories, nor are they contained to European hostels and New York City hotels.
Hawthorne Elementary School in Elkhart had an infestation earlier this month.
“It’s a little bit of everything,” said Ray, district supervisor for the Niles office, which services Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. “Right now we are seeing an increase in apartment complexes.”
The Niles Inn on South 11th Street confirmed that guests in one room reported bedbugs this week, and a pest exterminator is expected to arrive today.
“Somebody just had problems just there last night,” hotel manager Jamal Alnakshabandi said Tuesday. “We don’t have any other issues anywhere.”
Alnakshabandi said the case was the only bedbug infestation the Niles Inn has experienced, and it has occurred in only one of its more than 128 rooms. The fire marshal was contacted in addition to an exterminator.
The Berrien County Health Department (BCDH) reported it receives some calls regarding bedbugs; however, its job is only to visit the site to ensure the proper measures are taken to remedy the problem.
“We haven’t had a lot, but in past years we haven’t had any,” said Gary Witkowski, environmental health services manager of the BCDH. He said most cases have been in northern Berrien County.
The reason for the department’s minimal involvement with bedbug cases is because they pose no serious health threat, he said.
“There’s no disease associated with bedbugs,” Witkowski said.
According to Mayo Clinic, “symptoms of bedbug bites include redness, often with a darker red spot in the middle; itchiness; bites arranged in a rough line or in a cluster; and bites located on the face, neck, arms and hands. Some people have no reaction at all to bites, while others experience an allergic reaction that results in severe itching, blisters or hives.”
There are two methods of bedbug extermination, both of which Rose Pest Solutions utilizes.
The first is the conventional method, which uses chemicals to kill the insects. Two to three follow-up treatments — at additional cost — are usually required. Ray said some bedbugs are becoming resistant to this method.
The second method is heat treatment. The exterminators bring a generator containing heaters that are placed around the site and heated to 120 degrees. Once they reach that temperature, the site is heated for six hours.
Ray explained that bedbugs are usually easy to identify.
“You can see the adults. They are about the size of an apple seed,” he said. “You will start seeing blood smears on your pajamas … whatever you are wearing to bed.”
Bedbugs often hitch a ride to clothing and luggage. Experts strongly suggest using hotels’ luggage racks instead of placing luggage on the floor or bed. Wash clothing in hot water when returning home.
“Just check the mattresses and box springs at hotels,” Ray recommends. “Pull out headboards.
“I hate to say it, but be careful if your kids are staying the night over at someone’s house,” he said.