Wichita Wichita pest-control companies say eradicating bedbugs is still just a small part of their businesses, but that could change as reports of the tiny bloodsuckers in the city are on the rise.
Cindy Betts, office manager for Betts Pest Control, said her company is expecting more calls about the nocturnal parasites as students come home from college and families return from vacation.
“We’ve seen more bedbugs in the last year than we’ve seen in the other 38 years put together,” she said.
The insects get into beds, clothes, couches, chairs and all kinds of other hiding places waiting for nightfall when they feast on slumbering humans. Even if nobody is around, bedbugs can live a year without eating.
The Wichita Eagle reported that a study sponsored by the National Pest Management Association concluded that 95 percent of U.S. pest management companies said they had encountered a bedbug infestation in the past year.
Betts said treating bedbugs isn’t a big part of her business yet, but it’s the fastest-growing segment. She said at present roughly half of the company’s work is termite control, and the rest is mainly devoted to killing spiders and insects, including bedbugs.
Bill Hawks Jr., president of Hawks Interstate PestMasters, said even though Wichita is seeing more bedbugs, it’s not as bad as states on both coasts are experiencing.
“We are not seeing anywhere near the activity,” he said. “Where you have to be alert is when somebody returns from mission work, or coming back from seeing shows in New York or from Las Vegas.”
Hawks said bedbugs are hard to eradicate once they’ve taken hold in homes or offices. They’re hard to find and any that aren’t killed will cause a reinfestation, so it takes a crew of two or three people between an hour and four hours to treat a house, he said.
“It’s 100 percent or nothing, because whatever you leave comes back,” he said.
Homeowners and hotel owners who find bedbugs have to act quickly, once bedbugs have turned up, or they will quickly spread, both Betts and Hawks said.
Betts said she has treated some hotels, but most hotels that contact her are trying to find out the best way to get rid of the insects. She thinks that means hotels will have staff members, rather than pest-control professionals, will try to eradicate the bugs.
“That worries me,” she said.