The good news: Pinellas County has had a booming year in tourism, making a record $35 million in bed taxes. The bad news: it also had the most bed bug complaints in the entire state.
“I started studying bedbugs in 2004 and we have seen nothing but increases,” said Dini Miller, a Virginia Tech entomologist. “Mammoth increases.”
However, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation database’s tally of official complaints is still limited, so despite the epic number of alleged sightings, the official count of bedbug complaints in 2014 is only at 40.
If personal accounts are to be believed, things could be a lot worse. George Lawson, a tourist from Tennessee, stayed at the Sun Island Motel, which had seven infestations confirmed by state inspectors between April and September, and said that he’d seen “a bug run across my bed and I jumped up. Simultaneously, my daughter came and knocked on my door and said there was bedbugs — they were seeing them — all over the wall in their room.”
Another of the official complaints logged by DPBR claims that the bedbugs “were coming out of the walls and light sockets.”
Despite clear records indicating that the motel had a bedbug problem, owner Thang P. Bui dismissed WFLA news when they tried to ask him a couple questions.
“I don’t have any problem,” Bui said. “So don’t come here and make up this story.”
In his defense, records do show that he paid a $200 fine back in August, and has yet to have any recurring bedbug problems since September.
What’s more, Bui may also have been going about taking care of the bedbugs wrong, too. Chemical bed bug solutions often take three or more treatments before an area is successfully exterminated. After all, about 76% of pest control professionals said that bedbugs were the most difficult pest to treat — more so than cockroaches, ants, and termites — according to the 2013 Bugs Without Borders Survey.
Luckily, there are alternative ways of treating bed bugs that have been proven to be more effective. Specifically, heat treatments. Bedbugs are hardy parasites, able to withstand temperatures ranging from nearly freezing to a whopping 122 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat treatments beat the bedbugs with 130 or 140 degree temperatures for a few hours, effectively killing them all in one go.
Ultimately, the bad news is that bedbugs are on the rise, but the good news is that although they’re tough to kill, there’s still an effective way out there to handle them.