Bedbugs a growing problem in Vermont

WCAX3 | By Kiernan Brisson 

WINOOSKI, Vt. (WCAX) An invasive species may be more of a pest in our area than you think. We are talking about bedbugs and their presence in Vermont has grown since their sudden reappearance in 2005.

But as our Kiernan Brisson reports, many people are reluctant to talk about infestations because of the stigma attached to bedbugs.

A bedbug infestation was recently reported in an apartment building on Follett Street in Winooski.

“Currently the city is aware of an infestation in a unit. We had been alerted to the infestation through someone who didn’t want to be identified,” said John Audy, the city’s director of code enforcement.

The bugs were first detected in one apartment before spreading to three others.

But this isn’t an isolated incident. Since 2005, the state of Vermont has seen constant growth in the number of bedbug cases and exterminations.

“So bedbugs are hard to get rid of… And I also know because I’ve talked to friends who work in the housing industry in Burlington and they’ve also seen a huge increase in the number of bedbugs,” Vt. State Entomologist Judy Rosovsky said.

“So just from a percentage standpoint of how much bedbug work we’ve grown in a sense, I mean in the last five years about 105% increase in the bedbug work that we’re doing,” said Brandon Hier, the district manager of pest control company Ehrlich.

Bedbug cases in the state range from apartment complexes to hotels to family homes, but contrary to popular belief, the infestations have nothing to do with cleanliness.

“Really I wish that stigma would go away. It’s absolutely nothing to do with people’s lifestyle or standard of living. They’re not attracted to dirt, they want us; they want our blood,” Rosovsky explained.

“They are very intrusive and it doesn’t matter if you’re clean or not clean, they are hitchhikers,” Audy said.

The best way to stay bedbug free is to eliminate the possibility that they are tracked into your residence. Bedbugs are hitchhikers, often brought home by travelers.

“So you need to watch what’s coming through your front door, it’s the best thing you can do,” Hier advised. “Anything you can put in the dryer on high heat for 30 minutes is going to come out bedbug-free. If you have items like, I don’t know, a hard-shell suitcase, you could simply clean that, a good scrubbing with some soap, not taking in used furniture, that’s the biggest thing we’ve seen.”

The Burlington Housing Authority would not comment on the case in Winooski. They did say they are working with the tenant and the landlord to resolve the infestation issue.

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