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    Pennsylvania has Bed Bugs

    It was probably inevitable that bed bugs would begin to infiltrate other areas besides New York and New Jersey. And, after several years of being at the epicenter of the battle against these blood sucking creatures, it appears New York is no longer alone in the fight. Bed bugs have taken wing (so to speak, since they are in fact, wingless) and landed in Pennsylvania. Major outbreaks have been reported in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, as well as many other smaller towns.

    In fact, in Harrisburg, several hotels were shut down or cited by the health department recently, and there have been infestations reported in several housing projects and restaurants as well. In one small hotel, the infestation was so bad that the police had to go to the hospital under hazmat conditions, complete with bio-suits. 

    With an already downturned economy, the question of whether smaller local Pennsylvania tourism businesses can survive such a negative is being debated openly. Even in the bigger metro areas like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, it’s no picnic when bed bug infestation reports make their way to the media. There are even several online bed bug reporting sites that inform travelers of what hotels to avoid. Not a pretty picture. 

    So, what’s the up side? Well, sadly, when it comes to the bed bug problem, there isn’t much up side, really. These bugs are very resilient, and have developed immunities to a whole host of pesticides. Add that to the fact that federal and local governments have become increasingly more hardnosed when it comes to allowing the introduction of new pesticides, while banning older, effective ones such as DDT. That’s a bad sign for anyone who wants to get rid of these menacing insects. 

    Researchers and entomologists are trying multiple approaches – everything from new “green” pesticides to genetic splicing, with the possibility of introducing new strains into the bed bug population – ones that can’t reproduce, or are susceptible to more pesticides. So far, no magic bullet has emerged, but the research continues. The EPA even held a Bed Bug Summit last year to try and bring various disciplines together to try and solve the rapidly spreading problem. 

    Pennsylvania area experts are reminding people to do what they can in order to minimize their exposure by taking reasonable and prudent steps, such as enlisting the services of a licensed, experienced professional pest management firm, and covering all of your bedding with effective anti-bed bug protection. This should also extend to your laundry storage in your home (a favorite place for bed bugs to infiltrate) as well as luggage and pillows when you travel.

    Also, since its travel that presents the most likelihood of spreading bed bugs, individuals should take precautionary measures while in the jaws of the travel system. Bed bugs are notorious stowaways on planes, trains, buses, taxis, cruise ships and in all manner of lodging such as hotels, bed and breakfasts, nursing homes, dormitories, youth hostels and more. Their eggs are sticky and cling to your clothing, luggage – even your shoes.

    Coming home for the holidays from university? Your parents would be thrilled if you came ALONE! That’s right; the bed bug epidemic has also hit almost every university dorm in the entire state. You should check with your campus housing administrators to see if bed bugs have been a problem on your campus, and ask them what steps you should take to avoid them.

    As for now, Pennsylvania, like New York before it, ponders what to do about the bed bug epidemic. So far, no easy answers have come to the forefront. So, the consensus seems to be ‘batten down the hatches, read up on it, cover your mattresses, box springs and pillows and call a professional right away if you suspect a bed bug infestation’.