Tropical bedbugs spotted in Merritt Island

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BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. —

An old enemy has returned to Florida, capable of spreading misery fast, far and wide: The tropical bedbug.

“They are stimulated when we go to bed at night. We release a pheromone, and that pheromone attracts them,” said Barry Inman, Brevard County Health Department epidemiologist.

The tropical bedbug is one of the nastiest kinds: It may be able to spread faster through Central Florida neighborhoods than other bedbugs.

Near the Ulumay Wildlife Refuge on Merritt Island, the tropical bedbug was found for the first time in 60 years in Florida, munching on a local family last year, a University of Florida researcher said.

Reports of all bedbugs are becoming more frequent, along with the misery caused by their red, itchy bites, Inman said.

“You get a female who gets a blood meal from someone, she can lay thousands of eggs and may not need another blood meal for some time — weeks and weeks,” he said.

Experts speculated the tropical bedbug may have arrived in a ship at Port Canaveral, not far from the local infestation.

Bedbugs can be next to impossible to find, and hard to kill unless sprayed directly and repeatedly, Inman said. And the newest bedbug addition — the tropical bedbug — only makes the whole problem that much more difficult.

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