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Bed Bugs take a bite out of San Francisco


SF's Bed Bug Infestation Getting Worse-44% And "hundreds of calls" Worse

Are you ready for a healthy dose of paranoia inducing bug news? Well, here it comes: the bedbug invasion of SF is only getting worse. Invasion, in the US vs. Iraq/Afghanistan sense of the word - the bugs have held a presence here for a long time but the number of troops are growing over the years. In the past couple weeks, there has been quite a surge.

The Public Health Department has seen a 44 percent increase in cases over the past three years. Since bed bugs lay and hatch eggs quicker and more plentiful when it's hot, the recent heat wave has caused a spike in cases. Since the hot weather hit, the Health Department has fielded hundreds of calls about the little beasts.

While most complaints come from single room occupancies (SROs) in the Tenderloin, SoMa and the Mission, the bugs can and do show up everywhere. It was once a common assumption that bedbugs are linked to poverty, but that is not the case. All over the country, they have infiltrated upscale condos, private residencies, movie theaters, and even corporate headquarters like the Penguin Group in Manhattan.

To really get a feel for how widespread this is, check out the National Bed Bug Registry,coincidentally started by a San Franciscan. The San Francisco page shows reports in many different neighborhoods, from the Richmond to Russian Hill.

"It's become an increasingly serious problem in all rental housing in San Francisco," said Sara Shortt, executive director of the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco. "If it's not treated properly, it becomes explosive, and that's been part of the problem. There wasn't aggressive treatment by landlords."

Bedbugs don't carry diseases but they do leave nasty bite marks on people that are allergic to the numbing agent in their saliva. If you are not allergic, you may be getting bit and don't even know it. For example, this SFBG writer reported last year that it took a while to figure out what was going on when his girlfriend was getting bit every night but he was not.

So, what do we do about it? First, figure out if you have them. Bed bugs only come out for short periods of time and are good at hiding. If you find dark spots (blood or feces), shed skins, eggs, and dead bugs on your mattress, box spring, or linens, you probably have bed bugs. It is recommended that you actually find a bed bug before you start freaking out at your landlord.

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BEDBUGS! - What you should know about bedbugs when you travel

"Wherever there are humans, there will be bedbugs," says Dr. Changlu Wang, assistant professor, Rutgers University School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. And how right he is—in recent
 years, cases of bedbug infestation have exploded, and the critters don't discriminate. You can find bedbugs in high-end luxury hotels, budget motels, remote cabins, and even cruise ships. Planes, trains, and automobiles offer places where these creepy-crawlies can hitch a ride, too.

Just because bedbugs are prevalent, though, doesn't mean you have to take them home with you. Follow our expert advice to make sure you're safe and bug-free, both on the road and at home.

Before you leave the house

Safeguard your suitcase before you get to the airport. "In the cargo hold of an airliner, your bag is right in there with other suitcases," says Missy Henriksen, vice president, public affairs, National Pest Management Association. "Bedbugs are referred to as 'hitchhikers,' they can be on a red suitcase to city A, but can jump onto a blue suitcase to city B."

To prevent any bugs from hitching a ride on your baggage, put your suitcase or duffel inside a sealed plastic bag before you drop it off at the ticket counter. "[This] will minimize bugs coming into contact with other suitcases that have been exposed," says Henriksen.

"There are some over-the-counter travel sprays that are helpful. Basically, they will enable bugs to avoid the luggage and suitcase, but they can't be depended upon altogether," says Jennifer Erdogan, director of the bedbug division at Bell Environmental Services, Parsippany, New Jersey.

"Alternatively, you can spray [your suitcase with] an insect repellent that contains DEET, which will prevent bedbugs from hiding on the luggage," says Wang. If you're not averse to chemicals, this may be a good option; in either case, a plastic covering is a good first line of defense.

At your hotel

"The term bedbug can be a misnomer," says Henriksen. "Travelers need to understand that they're 'bedbugs' because they're often found in the bed area, but are also found around the bed and in other rooms, the living room, for example."

"Any three-dimensional surface in a room with a crack or crevice [bedbugs] can find harbor in," says Erdogan. "They prefer to squeeze in cracks and crevices. They'll live inside the box springs, or line up along folds and seams of mattresses, inside couches, easy chairs, headboards, baseboards."

"When you first get into your room, store your suitcase in the bathroom or room with a linoleum floor," says Henriksen. "You can see [bugs] on the linoleum, [there's] less chance of exposure. Then go and do an inspection of the bed. Pull back the sheet and the bed linens, and look on the mattress pad cover and under the dust ruffle. What you're looking for is a bug the size of a lentil or an apple seed. Look for anything that [seems] out of place, like those seeds, [and] signs of blood, little droplets of blood, that would indicate the bugs have been eating from humans. If you see signs, there may be reason to suspect there's a problem."

"You may see fecal droppings that look like pen dots, [and] molted skins," says Erdogan. "Look at the box spring. Make your way out from there, inspect the head board, base moldings, end tables, any kind of sofa or chairs."

"It's useful to have a flashlight to help with the inspection," says Wang. In addition to the bed and soft furnishings, "check anything on the wall, any decorations such as picture frames."

"Check your drawers before putting any clothing in and also the luggage rack," says Henriksen. "If all looks OK, [you] should feel comfortable moving into the room. We also recommend keeping your luggage off the floor. Bedbugs can travel from room to room; if someone else is having trouble in their room, bedbugs can come through the wall."

If all these steps seem like too much to remember, you can download Bell Environmental's mobile app, Roscoe's Tips, free for your iPhone, which features a step-by-step guide for inspecting your hotel room.

If you suspect you've been bit by a bedbug, for the most part, the bites will be harmless—more a nuisance than anything serious. "Usually it's like a mosquito bite," says Wang. "It depends on the person; each person reacts differently. In most cases, you'll just see a little bump, [which] will disappear within three to five days. Some people may have itchiness or redness for more than one week or two ... You don't really need any treatment unless in some cases you feel very itchy; buy and apply anti-itching cream."

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"Bed Bug Treatments" - Victoria Fickle


By far my personal favorite for the day was Victoria Finckle's lecture. Victoria is a true entomologist with focused studies on Bed Bugs. Victoria's topics included: 

Bed Bug Biology

Mating and reproduction

Feeding habits

Signs and symptoms 

Variations of bites


Controlling Bed Bugs 

K9 scent detection

Conventional Bed Bug Treatment

Mechanical Control - Vacuuming

Steam Treatment

Mattress and Box spring encasement

Discarding infested items

Bed Bug Pest Control Services

We publish and republish alot on Bed Bugs so this was a treat! It would be very beneficial if others took this topic a little more serious. Some older posts I have made focus on what to look for when traveling, its worth a look. 

As a personal note: 

I thought I was the biggest insect geek, I have met my match! great lecture, kept me itching the entire time! 


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Bed Bugs - Learn About The Horrors You Can Bring Home


Here are two common bugs that cause rashes that can be picked up during one's travel from hotels.


Scabies are microscopic and are mites that burrow under the skin. The allergic reaction to them can result in extreme itching sensations and a marked rash. It may not show up for weeks after your trip. They can be treated with a prescription pesticide lotion you get from your physician. The mites are contagious so everyone in the home should also be treated, even if no symptoms are showing yet once one person in the home is positively diagnosed with scabies.

Wash everything worn as well as the sheets and towels in very hot water and dry on high heat. If there are items you can't wash, then put them in a plastic bag in order to suffocate them over the course of a week or two. These are parasites so it's important to stop their reproduction. It can be very frustrating as they can't be seen and are insanely itchy.

Bed Bugs:

A bed bug has to do is crawl out from its dark hiding spot, and bite you while you are asleep.
Once bitten, the bed bugs transfer blood out, and their saliva in. The reason why is because it as an anesthetic compound in its saliva that allows it to feed without notice. However, anywhere from a day to a couple of weeks later these welts will start to form that are very itchy, and out of instinct you will begin to scratch.

Once this rash develops it will look like a tiny pimple or even a mosquito bite, will become very red, and be very itchy. Well, I am sorry to say, but you now of a bed bug rash. Scratching it will not help, but will allow it to become worse by way of potential infection.

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