Q. How can I tell if my apartment is infested with bedbugs? A friend has just gone through a nightmare experience trying to get rid of them. She had to throw out her mattress, couch and other furniture, have the whole place fumigated and everything dry cleaned. It cost thousands of dollars.
I saw a bug the other night in my bedding and the next night I had a bite. I am totally freaked out. I can’t afford an exterminator to find out.
A. Bedbugs (Cimex lectularius) were once rare in the U.S. but are now making a dramatic resurgence. The bites can cause intense itching.
These pests are very hard to eradicate, but researchers at Rutgers have come up with an easy and inexpensive way to detect them (Science News, Jan. 16, 2010). Put 2.5 pounds of dry ice in a 1/3-gallon jug such as a Coleman cooler with a flip-up spout. The spout should be left slightly open, so the carbon dioxide can leak out.
Place the cooler in a plastic pet-food dish and tape a piece of paper to the outside of the dish as a gangplank for the bedbugs to climb. To make the plastic even more slippery, dust the dish with talcum powder. Within 12 hours the carbon dioxide will lure bedbugs to the trap and you will see them in the bottom of the plastic dish if you have any.