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Bedbug Battle: How To Keep The Pests Away

NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- Bedbugs have been invading New York City, popping up at public establishments in Times Square, SoHo, and Brooklyn recently. Now, many residents are wondering what they can do to stave off the bugs.

People are the mass transit for bedbugs, as the creepy crawlers hitch a ride on your clothes and end up in your home.

There's no need to worry though, as CBS 2's Kirstin Cole learned about the latest weapons in the bedbug battle from the experts.

The pest management conference at Rutgers University is where the big guys go to check out the latest in battling bedbugs.

"They're the hardest to get rid of – once you get them, they require a lot of labor and a lot of work, and there's the creep factor," urban etymologist Paul Bello said.

Bello specializes in fighting large-scale bedbug infestations, and his commitment runs deep.

"I have bedbugs at home that I to feed. See those little red dots?" Bello said.

He lets bed bugs feed on him every eight weeks as part of his research.

The pest control industry is embracing everything bedbug. It turns out consumers will pay hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars to get rid of the pests.

Chemicals and traps were everywhere at the conference, as were mattress wraps to protect your bed from the bugs. Pest Heat will send a boiler-hot blast into your home to rid it of pests, or Bed Bugs and Beyond will take a whole-home approach to fumigation.

If the bugs finally force you out of your home, you can fumigate your entire moving truck for $1,500.

Experts say people are the carriers. Bedbugs are exploding in retail, as seen when our canine expert, Ellie, found them at four out of six locations on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue during a CBS 2 undercover investigation. The bugs hitchhike in on returned merchandise, and with employees' and shoppers personal belongings.

For that reason, anything bought at a store should get 20 minutes in the dryer when it comes home. The heat of the dryer will kill the bugs and their eggs.

Dr. Steven Kells trains and lectures for hotels and stores, and warns that being proactive is vital to keeping the pests away.

"What you want to avoid is the mobile population of bedbugs, the bedbugs that are going to get onto your dirty laundry, are going to get into your suitcase, and are going to be carried home with you," Dr. Kells said.

When you're staying at a hotel, it's a good idea to check out your room immediately. Pull back sheets and inspect ticking at all four corners of the mattress. Then look behind the headboard and inspect the luggage valet rack.

Stay bug-free by storing your luggage in the bathtub, which bedbugs can't climb, and keep all toiletries zipped up in bags – it'll keep you from bringing home unwanted souvenirs.

Another tip: when you've been in any public place you suspect could have bedbugs, go home and immediately change out of your clothes, put them into a closed plastic bag, and get them directly into the dryer for 20 minutes.

Our experts say it's a trick that has kept them bug-free for years.

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