NEW HAVEN – After nearly being eradicated in the 1950s, bed bugs are making a comeback, and sightings in two New Haven schools have people talking.
Recently, the Yale School of Medicine dormitory was confirmed to have bed bugs in a couple of rooms.
Also, Hillhouse High School also had a case of one student being the carrier of bedbugs into the school. But Garth Harries, the superintendent of schools, says the school has been cleaned and inspected by an exterminator.
“They are medically harmless,” said Dr. Gayle E. Ridge, an entomologist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven, of the blood-sucking parasites. “People should be far more concerned with mosquitoes and ticks.”
From roughly the 1960s into the 1990s, Ridge says there was a lull in cases of bed bugs in part because washers, dryers and vacuums became household staples. However, over the past 20 years, increased travel and trade “between North America, Europe and the Far East," have allowed bed bugs to find "a pipeline to be able to reassert itself," Ridge said.
Ridge, who Monday hosted a bed bug forum, also says people need not throw any personal effects or articles of furniture out as a result of having seen this insect.
Among the presenters at the forum: an assistant state’s attorney, who deals with housing enforcement.
“Bed bugs fall right within our normal jurisdiction because it can be both a health code nuisance and also a housing violation,” said Judith R. Dicine, supervisory
assistant state’s attorney.
Under Connecticut general statutes, a landlord can ask a tenant for entry into his or her residence to treat a bed bug problem. But, if the tenant denies access “the landlord is not allowed to proceed into the unit unless they have a true emergency or they have a court order to make entry,” said Dicine.
Single bed bugs introduced into a building will usually not establish a population. Ridge suggests that if bed bugs are spotted anywhere in your home, a vacuum is the best pesticide. Specifically, “Take a crevice tool and run it slowly along the crack, you suck up 80 percent of the population just like that.”
If you discover bed bugs, Ridge says it’s important to book an exterminator that has at least one year of experience eradicating them because “it’s a skill. And, that can only be learned in the field.”
Ridge added that skin lesions might be an indication that you got bed bugs, but one cannot depend on that “because every person has a different reaction. From nothing at all to watery welts. So, the insect needs to be found.”