For most of the 20th Century, bed bugs were almost eradicated.
In recent years, however, they have seen a resurgence. The reasons are not yet clear.
However, experts say some factors may be complacency, increased resistance, bans on pesticides and increased international travel.
Thursday, August 2, 2012
The Central Branch of the Wichita Public Library is closed the rest of this week because of an invasion of bed bugs.
The pest problem was first discovered Wednesday by a patron at the library.
Now, library leaders are working to uncover just how widespread the problem is. Then, they will figure out how to get rid of the bed bugs.
Bed bug infestations are becoming an increasing problem across the country. While the City of Wichita is not calling the situation at the library an infestation, many people have been asking if it is possible the bed bugs hitched a ride home from the library with them.
A local exterminator, who returned to Wichita Wednesday from a two-day "bed bug boot camp" in Kansas City, says it is possible, but not likely.
"The chances are they (the bed bugs) probably wouldn't be in the books unless there was a real serious infestation going on," said Mike Patton, owner of Patton Termite and Pest Control.
He says there are steps that can be taken to even further reduce the chance of bringing bed bugs home from the library.
"Some of the things that are helpful are big Ziploc bags or Tupperware works pretty well," Patton said. "They're not capable of climbing real slick surfaces."
Library director Cynthia Berner-Harris said she is confident none of the library's materials are affected by the bed bugs. She said employees were already keeping an eye out for bed bugs following infestations at public libraries in Tulsa and Denver.
"We already had a plan in place where we do inspections of materials as they're returned to us and we keep an eye on that as materials are going out," she said during an afternoon news conference in downtown Wichita.
Patton said the best chance at bringing bed bugs into the home comes at the end of a vacation or a business trip. He said a lot of travelers will isolate their luggage when they get home.
"They'll leave it out in the garage and put it in a trash bag and seal it," he said. "If it's a real hot day, you can put it outside and you can bake them."
Anyone suspecting a bed bug problem at home should not treat for the pests until a live one has been trapped, Patton said. He added it is best to have a professional check because treatment is expensive.
"You're looking in excess of probably $1,000 to get started," Patton said. "And you can go anywhere from $1,500 or $2,000-plus on multiple bedroom houses."
Berner-Harris, the library director, says she knows treating the library will likely be costly.
"We'll have some difficult decisions ahead of us, I'm sure," she said.
Bed bugs are not known to carry any diseases, but they can certainly be annoying. As with most insect bites, some people may have strong, very uncomfortable reactions while others may have little reaction at all.