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Bedbugs are not hitchhikers like ticks. Ticks latch onto you and stay for quite a while. Bedbugs feed on you for a few seconds and then drop off to go into hiding, until their next feeding time. They are usually embedded in mattresses and bed frames but I have found them in the seams of curtains, air pockets in popcorn cielings, table lamps, pictures on the walls, and of course in luggage, gym bags, stuffed animals, etc...

We have averaged 40 to 50 bedbug treatments per year for the past 5 or 6 years. We have treated class rooms, houses/apartments, many motel rooms, a couple of cruise ships, a Coast Guard cutter, and even a passenger jetliner. So far, we have been extremely lucky in that we have not taken any home with us. Of course, we take precautions.

As far as when I do home inspections, 90% of the inspections I do are on empty homes so I don't have to worry about brushing against beds, furniture, or other items. I have yet to come across bed bugs during an HI.

If you ever suspect that you have encountered these minature beast, change clothes before you enter your own home. The clothes you were wearing should go immediately into the dryer on high heat for at least 40 to 45 minutes - this will kill the bug(s) and any eggs. If possible, do the same with any tool bag you took into the infested home also. If you ever get them in your house, beware of all the BS home treatments that you read about on the internet. I have yet to see one that works.

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So Roger, which treatment DOES work?

There are several companies in Florida and New York that are claiming good results with heat treatments. They basically seal off the house and inject heat to maintain an interior temperature of at least 140 degrees for 24 to 48 hours. We have stayed away from that because it is fairly new and we are not sure of the long term affects or consequences that such a treatment has on the home or the contents.

By far the best method is a structrual fumigation using sulfuryl flouride. Its expensive and requires the occupant to leave the home for 3 days, but I've seen nothing that works better.

On most apartments, motels, and other type dwellings, we usually evacuate the contents into an air tight trailer and fumigate the contents for 24 hours. Meanwhile, my crew treats the interior of the structure with a variety of residual pesticide formulations. After a final inspection, all of the contents are moved back into the home.

These are the only two methods we use, and at the risk of bragging, we have never had to visit the same home twice.

There are other companies that use steam treatments and others that are experimenting with other methods. We follow their research but have chosen to remain with what works for us.

If you travel much, there are several web sites that provide recommendations of precautions you can take to minimize your chances of bringing these critters home with you. Simple things that take just a little extra time.

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