Across the county, tiny bugs that reproduce and spread quickly have been found in homes, apartments, clothing stores and a movie theater.
Exterminators across Johnson County receive calls daily and visit houses, apartments and businesses up to six days a week.
According to local professionals, bed bugs were already a problem across the state, but they’ve been getting increasingly worse around Johnson County. At several extermination companies, bed bugs now make up most of their business.
“The bed bug issue is out of control right now,” said William Huth, owner and operator of Trio Pest Control in Greenwood. “I probably go out on calls for bed bugs five or six times a week. Aside from houses, apartment complexes are probably the most common.”
Huth has been in the business for nearly 20 years. During the past 10 years, the bed bug problem has gotten worse, and the pests aren’t isolated to homes, he said. He’s been called to hotels and motels, clothing stores and a movie theater in Johnson County, he said.
The biggest problem with bed bugs is how quickly they reproduce and how easily they spread from one place to another, Huth said. The ability the insects have to hide in every crack and crevice makes them very difficult to get rid of, he added.
For example, when he goes to an apartment where bed bugs have been spotted, he can’t just remove the bedding and blankets from a mattress, Huth said.
He has to expose every hiding spot where the bugs could be, such as electrical outlet covers. A chemical treatment is then applied throughout the apartment, he said, although heat is often the best way to rid an infestation.
“A lot of people will try to get rid of them themselves, and some may even think they have succeeded,” Huth said. “Unless you know what you’re doing to get rid of them, there is just no way you can.”
Because of bed bugs’ ability to hide and spread so well, Huth usually also treats the apartment units to the left, right, above and below the apartment that made the call, Huth said.
Apartment complexes are especially vulnerable to bed bugs, Indiana State Department of Health senior medical entomologist Bryan Price said.
Bed bugs have been increasing in number nationwide and Indiana has not been spared from that, Price said. They are excellent hitchhikers, spreading through people who travel and from used furniture. He urged people to be wary about buying secondhand furniture, especially beds and box springs.
At Freedom Pest Control, which serves Johnson County and as far north as Delaware County, the company receives phone calls about bed bugs daily at each of its locations. Bed bugs are a large portion of the company’s business, manager Howard Bienstock said.
Unlike insects that are most common during a particular season, bed bugs are a year-round nuisance.
“It’s a very creepy thing. Bed bugs feeding on people in their sleep,” Price said. “It’s painful, itchy and not a pleasant thing. Who wants to know when they fall asleep something will be coming out and feeding on them? It’s an uncomfortable way to live.”