BRUNSWICK, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A Mainer is bringing three generations of experience in the pest removal business to bear in the national debate over how best to beat back a bed bug outbreak.
Rich Stevenson is co-president of Modern Pest Services. The company has its headquarters in Brunswick, but it serves more than 10,000 customers all across New England. Modern Pest is a family business, founded in 1945. Rather than simply rely on his name, Stevenson bolstered his credentials with a degree in environmental entomology. He is also a board certified entomologist.
Because of his extensive background, Stevenson was invited to Washington D.C. in early March to take part in the National Pet Control Management Association's Blue Ribbon Bed Bug Task Force. The goal of the meeting was to set industry standards for bed bug removal.
NEWS CENTER's Lee Nelson recently spoke to Stevenson about the problem and his suggestions for a solution.
Stevenson said his father took him on his first call to deal with a bed bug infestation in 1980. At the time, he said the company handled about three cases of bed bugs a year. A recent spike in bed bug activity now has Stevenson responding to four or five cases each week.
Stevenson attributed the increase in bed bugs to a corresponding increase in travel. He said bed bugs are hitchhikers, attaching themselves to carriers and spreading all over the world. They tend to thrive in places where large numbers of people live closely together, like hotels and tenements.
As another possible explanation, Stevenson said harsh chemicals that previously proved effective against bed bugs have been taken off the market because of environmental and health concerns.
There are several signs to indicate you might have a bed bug problem. Stevenson said the bugs leave behind itchy marks where they bit into your skin. Your bed sheets will also be dotted with small black spots from the blood they drew. By the time those signs are apparent, Stevenson said the bed bugs are probably already well established in your home and unless terminated, will only multiply.
Stevenson ran through the most common treatment options. While each method has its own benefits and drawbacks, he said all of them are expensive. In order for pesticides to be effective, Stevenson said they need to be continually applied for up to 90 days. For quicker results, Stevenson said powerful heaters can be brought in to kill the bugs and their eggs by raising the room temperature to as high as 140 degrees.
For more information about extermination options, click here for a link to the Modern Pest Services website.