Carl Apple News Reporter
1:49 p.m. EST, February 11, 2011
Tabitha Spaulding sleeps on a piece of exercise equipment covered in blankets.
Her four young kids camp right on the living room floor of their three-bedroom apartment at Fox Ridge in Kalamazoo.
"That's our pallet, bed, stacked blankets," said Spaulding.
They've lived without furniture for a year after a bedbug infestation that started in October 2009. Management said she had to prove it and it wasn't until the following January that she found a bug.
She says they treated with a chemical five times, including the carpets."We had to take down all our pictures," said Spaulding. "We had to throw away all our furniture, all our beds, anything that was upholstered had to go."
They threw all their furniture in the dumpster, instructions from the exterminator hired by management. She said many of their neighbors are in the same boat.
Spaulding said their laundry bill was $200 dollars each time they had a treatment.The worst part is that it's a three bedroom apartment. All three rooms are cleared out with just a towel on the floor so they can track the bugs. Then there's the walls: she sealed up every nick or hole just in case.
"We literally mean, don't let the bedbugs bite," said Spaulding.Mark VanderWerp is an entomologist with Rose Pest Solutions. He said bed bugs are making a big comeback.
"They're a blood-feeding parasite, kind of like a mosquito without wings," said VanderWerp. "But the big difference is that they live in our bedrooms instead of outside which freaks people out."
He said the best method isn't to throw away all your furniture, but using extreme heat, 130 degrees for several hours. But it costs around $1,000 for one unit."Every problem has a solution, but they're not always economical," said VanderWerp. "That's the big stumbling block with these critters, treatments now are pretty expensive."
Spaulding has been told by management that the carpets are the next to go. Will that fix it? She and her neighbors are running out of options.
"I'm pleading, carpets, anything, just help us out," said Spaulding. "Just do something."