Bed Bug Problem Increasing In Omaha

Franque Thompson

OMAHA (KPTM)- A new study reported Omaha's bedbug problem is increasing. Orkin said the city jumped to number 17 as one of the top 50 cities with bed bug issues. That's 11 spots over last years ranking.

Hazel Hawthorne said she's been loosing sleep over the bug problem she's had for the past month.

"I don't feel like I should have to walk around with just numerous bumps and sores and blisters, sore to the touch as if I got some type of contagious infection," she said.

Hawthorne said she shuffles through her sheets daily trying to find the answer to those bumps and bites. She said herself, along with neighbors, have complained to the Omaha Housing Authority of bed bug problems.

"If you guys got to close the whole project unit and tell everybody they need to find a place to stay then do that. But don't keep allowing people to live in unconditional treatment and they're giving their last to you," said Hawthorne.

"What we try to do in a multi unit setting is work with a landlord and say, 'You know, it might be good if you treat multiple units at once so that you don't have this problem complex wide," said Reid Steinkraus of the Douglas County Health Department.

Bed bugs aren't just a housing authority issue. Priority Pest Control gets calls by the hour from all around the city. So the company uses propane-heating tools, with as much power as eight home furnaces, to kill off the problem.

"Nothing survives, everything is dead. And then you spray immediately after and that typically takes care of it," said Josh Mick of Priority Pest Control.

Propane heating is the most effective way to get rid of bed bugs. But depending on how bad the problem is, the job could cost as much as $3,000. And if someone has a cluttered home, treatment might not be as effective.

"Got to have everything off the floors. The heats got to penetrate everything," said Mick.

Trying to find the problem in a cluttered home could be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. But that won't keep Hawthorne from searching and finding answers.

"Come out and let us know what we can do to help you guys until you guys can get out to us. Something," she said.

Traveling is a common way bed bugs can jump from home to home. Some ways to stay safe include checking sheets, mattresses and headboards at hotels. You should also shake out your luggage outside and wash your clothes in hot water when returning home.