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The Economics of a Bedbug Infestation

As if a bedbug infestation wasn't upsetting enough, there's more than just the physical ramifications like itching and hives. An article in the New York Times says that it's not unusual for bedbugs to cost $5,000 and up.


Why? Inspections, exterminator fees, cleaning and storage - all these add up.

And for landlords of large apartment buildings - where bedbugs can easily get around and infest large areas - these critters can set them back as much as $80,000.

But beware: Some exterminators may be out to do more than banish the bedbugs - they may be out to rip you off. (My apologies to all of the honest guys out there.) Because this bedbug boom has many people paranoid and terrified and willing to spend almost anything, there's room for some untrustworthy shenanigans.

Here's where one problem lies: the tiny bedbug - the size of an apple seed - is hard to spot. They hide in small spaces, only to come out at night to feed on sleeping humans (they're nocturnal). You sometimes don't even know you have them until you get bitten. Sometimes you'll be lucky enough (!) to spot their feces, which look like little black specks.

So unless you are absolutely sure, you may have to start with paying for a visual inspection just to confirm that they exist. And then, for the treatments - usually a combination of pesticides and steam heat - there is more money you have to shell out, which can be anywhere between $250-900 per room. And then there's those follow-up visits to make sure the treatment worked.

Some dogs are coming to the rescue. With their keen sense of smell, specially trained dogs - like the same ones that sniff out bombs and drugs - are being used to sniff out bedbugs and their eggs. If you love dogs, getting a visit from these cute canine detectives may be enough to put you at ease and make you forget - at least temporarily - about your woes.

For more information, including how to find a reliable exterminator and other methods for protecting against bedbugs, read the rest of the article, Sleeping With the Enemy.

Read this real-person account from someone who found - and survived - a bedbug infestation.

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