Bed bug sufferers turn to UK professor around the clock


by Doug Proffitt

Posted on February 7, 2013 at 2:06 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 7 at 8:55 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky (WHAS11) -- Inside a home in Shively we could not see the bed bugs until the folks at OPC Pest Control peeled back the couch armrest. Inside the seams, there they were, super tiny and well hidden.

They do not jump on you. They do not fly.

Donnie Blake the president of Louisville’s OPC Pest Control says they hide.

"If you leave one bed bug behind the bed bugs are gonna come back. They come back so quickly," Blake said.

OPC recently posted a video of a Louisville apartment on YouTube, labeling it  “one of the worst bed bug infestations we've ever seen."
In Shively giant heaters are set up and cranked up, heating the home inside to 135 degrees.

The cost for this one job is $1,400.

How bad is the problem now? OPC President Donnie Blake says in 2003 his company did "one" bed bug treatment. Last year he did over 7,000 inspections and has a staff of 12 dedicated solely to bed bugs.

How fast do bed bugs move?  How long can they live in your house?

OPC, like many around the world are calling Professor Michael Potter at the University of Kentucky who says, “you go to the doctor’s office;  ride city bus;  go to the library;  your children go to school. The bugs get on clothing and backpacks and get transported into other places.”

His labs in the basement of the UK Ag building, are holding bed bugs from Los Angeles to Cincinnati and they are yielding new information.

His office has become bed bug central to desperate sufferers. He has emails from Tanzania to Manhattan.

"They're asking questions like, can I get bed bugs from my newspaper carrier?” Potter said.

His phone is always ringing from people around the U.S. also.

Potter describes them this way, “They bite you at night while you are sleeping. They live in your bed and bedroom, a place where you go to get away from all the things the world throws at you. There's something about this critter that causes a lot of emotional distress in people.”

Dr. Potter's work inside UK has saved pest control companies and government agencies time and money by zeroing in on what works and what doesn't. What's the average family going to spend on bedbugs? Potter says, “in a single family home anywhere from 500 to $3,000. In an apartment $300-$1500.”

He has even studied their behavior on when they will bite you by marking them with fluorescent powder, then watching.

“Let’s say you work the night shift and are sleeping during the daytime. They will adapt to a different feeding cycle depending on when the host is quiet and asleep” Potter said.

And the number one place in hotels for them to hide, beside the mattress and the headboard.

"The bugs don't like a lot of disruption or vibration. As the housekeeper is constantly changing out bedding and guests there's a lot of movement," Potter said.

His advice to you?

“We have found them in our hotel rooms on about three or four occasions. We pull the headboards off, we look closely at mattress and box springs, we don't tear the whole room apart," Potter said.

OPC says Potter's research is invaluable, and so, unfortunately was his foresight eight years ago.

“We thought he was nuts. But guess what, he was a prophet. Everything he said in 2005 has come to pass and really is worse than what Mike thought it was going to be and it's going to get worse because of our lifestyles.” Blake, OPS’s president said.

Potter says one bed bug in your home usually means you've got a lot more. His researcher found bed bugs travel 15 feet in one minute. One bed bug can live in your home up to one year.

The sprays you buy at the store do work, but only if you spray them directly and remember...find each and every beg bug. They multiply fast.