Archive for Monday, October 18, 2010

Bedbugs crawl into Lawrence, creating costly concerns

October 18, 2010


The bedbug infestation that has been working its way across the country has made its way to Lawrence, taking “sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite” beyond the realm of a children’s nursery rhyme.

Renee Mellenbruch, a 20-year-old single mother in Lawrence, found the parasitic insects in her bedroom last Wednesday — the second time she’s found the pests in her home.

“Our neighbors had had bedbugs for a year, did not tell anyone,” Mellenbruch said. “And then, the bedbug problem came into our house.”

Mellenbruch’s apartment received a special heating treatment, which warms the structure to about 130 degrees and is supposed to kill the bedbugs. A month after the treatment, she found the creepy crawlers in her bedroom again. Mellenbruch’s 2-year-old daughter has even received multiple bites from bedbugs, and she can’t go to day care anymore because of the exposure.

“My daughter’s not even allowed to go to day care,” Mellenbruch added. “I got a note from the day care provider, and a phone call, stating that until the situation is resolved with the bedbugs that my daughter is not allowed to go to day care any longer.”

Richard Njoroge of Laser One Pest Management in Lawrence, who has recently dealt with bedbug infestations in Topeka and Kansas City, says heat treatments can be costly.

“An average house, you’re looking at $500 to 600 to get rid of bedbugs,” Njoroge said about the heating process.

Njoroge said there are several ways to spot bedbugs if you suspect an infestation.

“First of all, you need to look at your mattresses,” Njoroge said. “Secondly, you look and see if there are any droppings. A lot of times, you’re going to see dots — red dots, sometimes kind of a brownish color.”

He suggests contacting a professional exterminator to rid your home of bedbugs.

“If you’re trying to get rid (of them) yourself, you are really defeating yourself,” Njoroge said. “It takes a lot of work, a lot of inspection and different materials that are not available to the public.”

Kansas University has taken precautions to educate its students not to bring bedbugs to campus.

“It’s not the easiest thing to get rid of, but it’s very easy to get in contact with it,” said Todd Cohen, the director of University Relations at KU. “Being in contact with bedbugs is not something to be ashamed of … . You can very easily carry them back if you don’t wash the clothes before you come back and put them in your dorm room.”


LogicMan 7 years ago

"Njoroge said there are several ways to spot bedbugs if you suspect an infestation.

“First of all, you need to look at your mattresses,” Njoroge said. “Secondly, you look and see if there are any droppings. A lot of times, you’re going to see dots — red dots, sometimes kind of a brownish color.”"

Bug bites a faster indicator?

Askesian 7 years ago

So was ignorance and following a story line. Apparently, now some of us are infected with that, too.

yankeevet 7 years ago

Those bedbugs are awesome; I ran over one on Iowa Street last night....................almost blew out my tire..........

Kontum1972 7 years ago

try washing your sheets every week in hot water.....not every semester...LoL

KansasPerson 7 years ago

This is the sort of ignorance that is going to cause a lot of people to end up with bedbugs in their house. Yeah, of course you should wash your sheets (frequently) but do you think the bugs stay in the sheets? Heck no. They can hide anywhere in your house (like behind an outlet cover on the wall, for instance, or in the bedframe, or in another room entirely). They are very small and can go up to a YEAR without eating, so they can be in a house that's been up for sale for a while. You could get a lovely surprise when you move in. They've been known to hang out in couches and chairs, on trains and airplanes, in movie theaters, in stores.. Over the weekend, an infestation was found in Lincoln Center in NYC. Just think how many people go there and then carry the little devils home with them, not knowing it until it's too late.

This is going to get a LOT worse before it gets better. It's not like the flu ("Maybe it'll mutate and maybe it won't") -- this is a sure thing. They're already getting to epidemic proportions in other states and with all the travel that goes on, they are spreading very easily. DDT is outlawed and that is the only thing that appears to kill them, aside from the very-cold or very-hot treatment (and even that sounds like it might or might not work).

akt2 7 years ago

Billy The Exterminator says he has had success with dog shampoo in a spray bottle.

Centerville 7 years ago

What materials aren't available to the public? An inquiring reporter would have asked. Thus, we are to conclude that it includes things that our Mrs. Grundy government has forbidden to us.

gr 7 years ago

", which warms the structure to about 130 degrees and is supposed to kill the bedbugs. "

Isn't this promoting cruelty to animals? I mean, if someone left their dog in a 130 degree car to kill it, wouldn't that be considered cruelty?

whats_going_on 7 years ago

since when are bedbugs pets?

I think the story says "pests"

gr 7 years ago

Can I quote you that animal cruelty laws only apply for pets?

KansasPerson 7 years ago

It might be doing the public a disservice to use a "20-year-old single mother" (implying low income) for this story. Bedbugs couldn't care less how much money you have. They have been found in extremely high-dollar resorts and cushy apartments (not in Lawrence, but in cities where they've gotten a good start, like NYC).

I just don't want readers of this and similar articles to come away with the impression that it's a problem only for certain socioeconomic levels. It's not.

gatekeeper 7 years ago

Maybe it's just you profiling like that. I never thought low income when reading 20 year old single mother. My first thought was apartment, which was correct.

KansasPerson 7 years ago

I think you might have misunderstood my post. I wasn't making assumptions (and I think btw that the term "profiling" is misused in this instance) and I didn't mean to offend anyone. My point was only that many readers on this site might make the "low income" assumption (if you don't realize that's true, you might not have read a lot of the posts on this site), and from there, they might leap to the conclusion that bedbugs are only a low-income problem. If you don't think this is an assumption that needs battling, then I must respectfully disagree with you. Just the comments on this topic alone show me that a lot people are still thinking it has something to do with how clean you are or how poor you are. Even more egregious are the ones who think it has to do with what country you're from. I actually got an email that warned us all that we should put our new clothes in the dryer on the Hot setting for half an hour, because so many clothes are made in "China, Indonesia, etc." because "these countries do not consider them a problem." Sheesh.

If anyone wants to see what a bedbug looks like, here's a link to another report of this story. That little girl is a cutie; I'm very sorry she's being frightened and bitten at night. And I applaud the mom's ethics in not wanting to sublease her apartment (that's what her management company suggested!) to someone who isn't aware of the problem. That's Property Management Services of Lawrence, folks.,0,1120074.story

KansasPerson 7 years ago

grin Okay, I realize I do sound seriously wound-up about this. Perhaps it's because I do a bit of traveling and perhaps because I have some relatives who are undergoing the "stink-bug" phenomenon in the east (the marmorated stink-bug was accidentally brought into the U.S. from another country, and since it has no natural predators here, it's invading homes as well as eating up a lot of agricultural crops). Not connected to the bedbug deal but still a serious pain.

I realize I do sound kinda phobic (but if you were to check you might start feeling a little paranoid too) but at the same time, I'm tempted to say -- save this thread and let's check back in a year or so, and see whether I was hysterical or realistic. Deal?

jafs 7 years ago

What's the best way to prevent bedbug infestations?

kernal 7 years ago

Corkey, I wonder just how much time you must spend out of every day looking for reasons to blame "liberals" for what ails the world.

Bedbugs have spread because some motels and hotels have not done an adequate job of cleaning rooms after guests leave, thus the little critters get their travel visas and hop rides around the globe. Also, some tenants in apartment buildings turn their apartments into pigstys or bring them in from their previous pigsty residences. Anyone renting a furnished apartment or renting furniture should be extra diligent.

kernal 7 years ago

That's one more way to lose the small amount of tourism we get. Perhaps this category could be added to the counties to take care of as restaurant and other food prep businesses have been.

jafs 7 years ago

Then local taxes would have to go up to cover the costs of that.

KansasPerson 7 years ago

Don't know which one Number_1_Grandma was referring to, but there are two bedbug reports for the Days Inn on Iowa Street at

gatekeeper 7 years ago

Yeah, wonderful DDT. LInked to diabetes, thyroid disfunction, developmental and reproductive issues (preterm birth, disruption in semen quality, menstruation, gestational length, and duration of lactation), it causes miscarriages and it's a carcinogen. Exposure increases the odds of breast cancer (up to 5 times), liver and pancreas. It may contribute to a lot of other cancers.

Yes, lets starting use that wonderful chemical again.

And, it almost wiped out bald eagles and many other birds.

beatrice 7 years ago

Oh sure, DDT might cause cancer and miscarriages and stuff, but bed bug bites are ugly! We can't be expected to go around with ugly little spots, no can we? Looking good is far more important than feeling good.

aeroscout17 7 years ago

Yup, it is the damn liberals that have caused the worldwide infestation mentioned in your second article, even though DDT is still legal in some countries...

WHY 7 years ago

Good, Liberty will not use medicare medicaid or social security. He will not take advantage of socialist programs like public education, police, or fire. In fact why live in a society at all. Move into the woods and provide for yourself.

whats_going_on 7 years ago

except who in their right mind is going to trust a bunch of huge corporations?

We wouldn't need so many regulations if corps wouldn't be so freaking greedy and dishonest.

jafs 7 years ago

The libertarian view, being quite focused on independence and property rights, does suggest that it would be very in line with that thinking to live on one's own in the woods.

It would be interesting to know how many libertarians actually make that choice.

kernal 7 years ago

And you can also forget about the donation of a teepee.

kernal 7 years ago

Watch out when you purchase those cheap mattresses from discount furniture stores as sometimes those mattresses that look brand new are actually old infested dirty mattresses purchased from motels and recovered to look new and fresh.

As Kontum said, wash your beddings in hot water every week, regardless if the label says to wash in cold water. Cold water is not going to cut it; ditto with towels.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

If you dry them in a dryer at high temp, it really doesn't matter what temperature the wash water was.

beatrice 7 years ago

Only if you fully dry the sheets, I would imagine. Problem is, they don't live on the sheets. They live in the bedding and the walls.

somedude20 7 years ago

I like to chop the bedbugs up into fine little lines and then I snort them. Yum...Go Keith Richards

WHY 7 years ago

I got bedbugs when I stayed at an apartment in Topeka. I had over 100 bites and each was slightly smaller than a dime. It took a month to recover. If you want to kill them yourself it is not easy but you can do it. Put a sticky bug trap or bowl of water under each leg of your bed. Move your bed away from the wall. Keep your bedding off the floor and wash every other day or on any day when you get a bite. They will climb the walls and drop from the ceiling. Spray around the baseboards and walls with bedbug spray, sold at hardware stores. Insecticides won't kill all of them which is why sticky traps help. They only come out at night so during the day you are safe. They are attracted to body heat and carbon dioxide. I'm sure some clever fellow will invent a trap using these as bait.

Kontum1972 7 years ago

whats is the difference between bedbugs and crabs?

whats_going_on 7 years ago

"Crabs are also known as pubic lice and they make a living hanging out in your private place."


yankeevet 7 years ago

I saw a crab riding a bed bug once; had a saddle on and everything..

gatekeeper 7 years ago

Yes, it was a good idea. If you would read a little about DDT, you would learn about resistance. One problem when using pesticides is that bugs build up a resistance to it (including bed bugs). This has happened with DDT. There was actually a resurgence of malaria in the tropics because of over use of DDT on cotton crops (Chapin, Georgeanne & Robert Wasserstrom, "Agricultural production and malaria resurgence in Central America and India", Nature, Vol. 293, 1981, pages 181 to 185. )

Got any more stupid questions? Nets do a much better job of protecting people, are cheaper and don't cause cancer and birth defects.

kernal 7 years ago

Where o' where shall we look it up, Swan?

kernal 7 years ago

So, now you're saying "Silent Spring" was a hoax?

gatekeeper 7 years ago

Can I spray you, your family and all your belongings with DDT daily? Let's see what kind of effect it has.

jafs 7 years ago

Only if it doesn't affect any of your neighbors.

kernal 7 years ago

Okay, the time has come to lobby for the return of state run mental institutions. But, they'll have to be three times as big as the prisons.

jafs 7 years ago

Anybody have a good idea how to prevent bedbug infestations?

WHY 7 years ago

Nope, there is no way to stop them. If you go to a friends house and they have one that climbs on your jacket it will come home and breed a thousand. They are everywhere and when you get them you will just have to fight them every day for months. Go on the internet an you can find stories of people mentally breaking down because every time they sleep they get a dozen bites and they can't stop the itching 24/7. It will drive you nuts.

Centerville 7 years ago

Chlordane. But don't tell anyone you have it.

ralphralph 7 years ago

"toxic and persistent" = it works and it lasts ... sounds good

gphawk89 7 years ago

Anyone know whether DDT breaks down over time? Not that I know where there are several gallons...

whats_going_on 7 years ago


Some companies have used the bedbug epidemic as a way to make a quick buck. Jones notes that many "natural" pest-fighting alternatives have questionable value. For example, diatomaceous earth, a popular nonpoisonous insect killer, may take weeks to work, while lavender- and cedar-based bug killers are unproven. At best, she argues, they are "a Band-Aid on a gaping wound." At worst, they are completely useless.

See full article from DailyFinance:

hdcase 7 years ago

If the bed bug epidemic continues to grow at an exponential rate and becomes a pandemic, literally millions of homes, businesses, modes of transportation, etc. will be affected and require bed bug control. With this in mind, here are some questions for environmentalists and all of us, to consider... Read the full post here:

gr 7 years ago

This can mean only one thing.

We MUST increase taxes.

Kontum1972 7 years ago

so is it possible for crabs and lice too mate?

Shane Garrett 7 years ago

Well, If this post continues I will let everyone know the results. Wife had bed bug bites about a month ago. Shendel pest control was costly for the heat treatment, about three times the $500.00 amount mentioned in the story. Plus we bought beg bug covers for all the beds. She has not been had any bites since. But we plan to bomb the house soon. Waiting for any missed eggs to hatch. I think we may have brought them home from a purchase from the thrift store, but we will never really know. We did a lot of laundry for about a week as we washed in hot and tumbled dry on high.

earline james 7 years ago

Thrift Store purchase? Oh, crap. Just when I thought I'd safely made it through Yard Sale Season without bringing any home, now I fear Thrift Stores. I wash everything (lots of times in cold water). Nobody says bed bugs don't drown, but I've heard the hot water and high dryer heat recommended before.
How about RAID? It kills ants and roaches; how can it not work on bed bugs?

KansasPerson 7 years ago

Thanks for the info, Wally and (earlier) Starlight. I had heard of di. earth but I was wondering how you managed it. We've been lucky in not getting the little devils in our house but I would certainly not want them! Wally, what are you planning to bomb your house with, and are you doing it yourselves or is this part of the Shendel treatment?

In case someone missed it up above (it got buried in a "smallerized" post) here is a link to a different news outlet's take on this story, complete with video. I didn't realize how much bedbugs resemble ticks (kind of). I wonder if they are also arachnids. Anyway: Cute little girl; I hope she gets to sleep fear-free soon!

Shane Garrett 7 years ago

Hot Shot, I think is what we got. We will need to stay out of the house for about three hours. A good time to take the wife out for dinner. Not part of the pro pest control, but a whole lot cheaper. This weekend I will spray around the foundation of the house. My Brother works at a hotel. They have the professionals treat all adjouning rooms and throw out all the associated bedding, after it is wrapped in plastic. Then the pros come back one week later and cut out the bottoms of the funiture and spray all that down.

ralphralph 7 years ago

Don't it always seem to go, you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone ...

I miss DDT.

gatekeeper 7 years ago

So you like increased rates of diabetes, thyroid disfunction, developmental and reproductive issues (preterm birth, disruption in semen quality, menstruation, gestational length, and duration of lactation), it causes miscarriages and it's a carcinogen. Exposure increases the odds of breast cancer (up to 5 times), liver and pancreas. It may contribute to a lot of other cancers.

Cancer and birth defects are great, aren't they?

Or how about the fact that when you use pesticides the bugs build a resistance to them?

ralphralph 7 years ago

Well, you WOULD bring up the bad parts .... I just want something that works.

Okay, Okay ... I saw a beautiful and enormous bald eagle out by Melvern Lake yesterday ... guess it might not have been there if DDT was still around. But, still, ... bedbugs!??!?!?!

jafs 7 years ago

That's a bit harsh.

But one does have to wonder if his own life is, in fact, a counter example to some libertarian principles, if he's having a hard time making it on his own.

And, it would only be stubborn attachment to those principles, even if they're not working, that might prevent him from getting the help that's available.

acg 7 years ago

Starlight is soooo right. Diotomaceous earth also works on flea infestations. We got fleas really bad a few years ago from a cat my kids insisted on trying to adopt. I bombed, vacuumed, cleaned, cried, tried everything to get rid of them. 1 week of D. Earth down and then vacuum it up, they were gone. All gone, all dead, 1 treatment, totally safe. Loved it!!!

ralphralph 7 years ago

Where do you get D Earth? Did I miss that up above somewhere?

DillonBarnes 7 years ago

"Kansas University has taken precautions to educate its students not to bring bedbugs to campus."

Anyone have any idea what this means, I haven't heard a thing from KU.

Gene Wallace 7 years ago

That and washing with Mom's old favorite, Borax. There was a reason why Twenty Mule Team Borax and hot hot water was used in the past. boric acid to the rescue.

larry88 7 years ago

The news outlet you have posted a link to didn't allow the management company to respond when their message was returned. After the property was inspected this week there was no sign of bed bugs.

KansasPerson 7 years ago

larry88, I see that you've just arrived on this board and this is your first comment, so first of all, welcome. Secondly, did you get this information from the property management company, or were you actually one of the inspectors? If the former, are you sure about the truth of what they're telling you? If the latter, are you aware that the bugs are usually hiding during the day? I'm pretty sure it'd be a better test to actually spend the night there and see if you wake up bite-free. I'm sorry to imply that your post is not truthful (again, it may just be information you were given and were passing on here) but how can it possibly be that the bugs moved away on their own, without any treatment? Or is the management company trying to imply that the woman is not being truthful? After seeing the bites (on the news story) and the bug she'd caught and saved in a bag, how can we think that she's making it up?

Also, is the management company going to be truthful to the next tenants, or are they just going to put people in that apartment without treating the premises for bugs? Aside from the ethical questions that would raise, it would also cause more trouble for everyone involved in the long run, wouldn't it?

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