Bed Bug Shocker

Monday, February 7, 2011 - 7:46am

Exterminators describe bed-bug infested home as the worst they've ever seen.

It is in many ways an all-American home.

Well kept and tidy, with the Stars and Stripes fluttering near the sidewalk.

It could belong to your grandmother, but inside the Minneapolis bungalow, trouble scampers beneath the sheets.

"We're seeing all types of adults, nymphs, basically all stages of bedbug activity here," says Chris Garcia of Adam's Pest Control as he lifts a mattress to expose dozens of crawling creatures, some as large as pencil erasers.

The elderly owner of the home sleeps in one of the bedrooms, her head just inches from an electrical outlet swarming with bedbugs.

At night they feed on her.

Blood stains have soaked into her pillow.

"This is definitely the worst I've seen," says Garcia, who works with the efficiency of an exterminator who has seen a lot.

"This is fecal matter," Garcia points out as he lifts a stained mattress in another bedroom used for sleeping by an elderly man.

Bedbugs scamper.

The woman and her housemate have tried for more than two years to gain control of the infestation, ripping up carpets and spraying over-the-counter pesticides -- but it is obvious their efforts failed. In a bedroom closet, hundreds of bedbugs crawl over each other inside a running shoe.

The infestation is extreme, but it is hardly isolated.

Once nearly wiped out by strong - but now banned - pesticides like DDT, bedbugs have waged an aggressive comeback.

"Bedbugs are hitchhikers so they spread by getting on your luggage and on your clothes," explains Todd Leyse, the president of Adam's Pest Control. "Every year we're seeing 30 to 100 percent more bedbug jobs than the previous year, for about the last 11 years."

Leyse and his crew are using portable furnaces to heat the Minneapolis house to 135 degrees - a temperature lethal for bedbugs.

It's a costly procedure.

The owner of the home was given an estimate of more than $6000 to rid her house of the pests. It was more than she could afford. She would have been lost without a new program called "Project Good Night," launched by Adam's Pest Control and the non-profit group Bridging Inc.

Bridging hopes to raise $150,000 in private donations to help others who don't have the means to eradicate bedbugs from their homes. Adam's has pledged another $150,000 in matching funds.

"I thought that we would meet the needs of everyone in a very short period of time, but the need continues and it's getting worse," said Jim Elfering, operations manager for Bridging.

Garcia says the Minneapolis home will likely need follow-up visits to kill every last bedbug, but even in the midst of the worst infestation he's ever seen, he is optimistic.

"We're going to save this house."

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