SALEM (CBS) — The phrase “don’t let the bed bugs bite” is being said frequently these days in Massachusetts, thanks to a resurgence of the tiny, blood-sucking pests.
From one end of the state to the other exterminators say their phones are ringing off the hook with calls to eradicate the bugs.
At least 40 units at a senior housing complex in Salem are now getting the heat treatment to literally bake the bugs out of the apartments.
Air heated to at least 125 degrees is being pumped in because “it’s lethal to bed bugs,” said Gary Weisberg of A-1 Exterminators which is handling the job.
Bob Waldie, whose mother lives in the complex, says it’s a problem that’s happened before.
“I ran my finger under the box spring and they were dropping on the floor, it was disgusting,” he said. “These people like to trade stuffed animals, buy stuff at thrift stores.” And those are prime breeding grounds for bed bugs.
It’s a resurgence in the state some attribute to more international travel and restrictions on some pesticides in the growing green movement.
“They’re hitchhikers, and they’re transferred that way,” said Weisberg.
PJ Arsinault of Yankee Pest Control is exterminating two units at a Dorchester triple decker, cranking up the heat to keep up with the demand, at least ten calls a day.
“It’s bad luck,” he said. “It’s people not being aware of how to prevent them.”
The bugs are more of a nuisance than a health threat. The infestation has less to do with the cleanliness of a dwelling and more to do with what residents bring in.
At his mother’s housing complex, Bob Waldie hopes they have better screening for tenants.
“They’ve got people coming in and they don’t check them out. It’s a big issue,” he said.