The Northeast's bedbug problem is expected to worsen this summer as temperatures rise and vacationers increase traffic in hotels, entomologists and pest-control experts say.
Hotels and summer camps are among the businesses seeking information about policies and procedures for dealing with bedbugs from BedBug Central, a Lawrenceville-based website offering products and services aimed at eradicating the blood-sucking insects, said Jeffrey White, an entomologist with the site.
They understand that it's inevitable at this point, White said. There's really no true prevention for bedbugs other than education.
Bedbugs' recent spread may be boosted this spring and summer as temperatures rise, potentially increasing challenges that have already been faced by North Jersey businesses in recent years - such as a YMCA branch in Hackensack and senior living facility in Paramus.
At 65 degrees, it takes three months for bedbugs to become adults, said Susan Jones, a professor of entomology at Ohio State University. At 86 degrees, it takes only three weeks for them to go from eggs to adults.
One pregnant female bedbug can produce up to 300 bugs in about six weeks, said John Kane, an entomologist and technical specialist with Parsippany-based Western Pest Services.
We do get more (reports of bedbugs) during the summer, though not a sharp spike, said Kane, who handles service calls in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. I definitely expect more (reports) than last year.
A more important factor in seasonal bedbug surges may not be temperature changes so much as the travel schedules of their hosts, Jones said.
You see big spikes after vacation periods, she said.
Statistics to verify reported increases of bedbug infestations are hard to come by. That's because homeowners, landlords and businesses typically are not required to report infestations to local or state health officials. Hackensack, for example, typically receives reports of bedbugs only from residents whose landlords are slow to address the problem, health official John Christ said.
In Paramus, CareOne at the Cupola, a senior housing facility on Ridgewood Avenue, treated one resident's room for bedbugs last fall.
While bedbugs were found only in one room, the center's management implemented a plan to have 20 rooms per month inspected as a proactive measure, according to health records The Record obtained from the town.
CareOne's management declined to comment, but spokesman Peter Ward said in an e-mailed statement: Local health officials were notified and upon their review, confirmed this was an isolated incident and addressed by the center to their satisfaction.
In the fall of 2009, the YMCA of Greater Bergen County in Hackensack faced a bedbug infestation involving eight of the 28 residential rooms the Main Street facility rents out. Some of the pests also were found in the Y's lobby.
As soon as we recognized we had it, and we knew it was becoming an epidemic in the Northeast, we reached out to our members and informed them of what was going on, said Keith Zebroski, the Y's senior program director.
The Y then embarked on a months-long treatment plan to eradicate the problem. Y officials hired an exterminator and replaced mattresses and lobby furniture. Zebroski said the cost, excluding new mattresses and furniture, was $11,568.
The Y is ready to face the problem this summer, should bedbugs appear again, he said.
We've been through it, he said. We know how to handle it.
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