By Craig Day, The News On 6
TULSA, OKLAHOMA -- Exterminators all across Oklahoma are fighting the bed bug battle.
The pests were eliminated for 50 years in the U.S., but travelers have brought them to the coasts and now the bloodsuckers are hitching rides to the heartland.
At Emtec Pest Control, they're used to dealing with a lot of undesirable creatures.
"We do roaches, spiders, ants, mice, fleas, ticks. Bedbugs," said Cory Forister.
Bedbugs are back, and business is booming. Two years ago, pest control specialists in Oklahoma didn't see hardly any of the bloodsuckers.
"In the past year it's probably been a four to five hundred percent increase," Forister said.
Ten years ago, only about 25 percent of the nation's exterminators reported ever encountering a bed bug. This year, it's 95 percent. The pests are really bad on the East and West Coasts.
"It's unfortunately not something that most people are able to deal with on their own," Forister said.
And now there are bedbug breakouts all over the country, mainly caused when unsuspecting travelers unknowingly bring them home.
"It's about the size of an apple seed," said Forister.
It's something exterminators recently saw at a Tulsa apartment complex.
"You can see the bedbugs and bedbug excrement all across the room," Forister said.
And what's worse, the bugs don't just live in beds. They can live up to 20 feet from where they're feeding.
"If only it was as simple as throwing away the mattress, it would be easy to deal with, but they live in lots and lots of hiding places. They live in wall outlets, under baseboards, in curtains, in furniture," Forister said.
While they don't cause any known health risk, they're definitely a nuisance and can cost more than a thousand dollars to kill.
To see whether your hotel or motel has a history of bedbug complaints, check out Bedbugregistry.com