Spray It Isn't So: Bedbugs Outlast Many Quick Remedies

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    NEWSLETTERS

    There's no quick fix to get rid of bedbugs. And this summer experts think the problem might get worse. There are options out there to control the pests but knowing their effectiveness is crucial to combat them. (Published Tuesday, May 24, 2011)

    Sleep tight? Yeah, right. New Yorkers worried about the resurgent bedbug epidemic know they can't rest easy these days because so many remedies designed to eliminate the creepy crawlers don't work as quickly as an apartment-dweller might hope.

    A Long Island inventor told NBC New York his product, which combines cinnamon and sea salt with some other "secret ingredients" he wouldn't name, slays most bedbugs on contact.

    "We do show a 98 percent kill rate, many times 100 percent," said Stewart Barnett, inventor of Micro-Armor Allo Natural Bed Bug Spray.

    His product got a skeptical response from some exterminators.
         
    "That may work under lab conditions, but in real life it may be another story," said Danny Camacho, a pest control specialist at M&M Environmental.

    Camacho said some of the environmentally friendly sprays available at the corner store might subdue a bedbug, or act as a repellent, but chances are a few spritzes won't make much of a dent if you have an infestation.

    "You're better off using rubbing alcohol," said Camacho.

    Entomologist Christine Johnson, who studies bedbugs and other insects at the American Museum of Natural History, said part of the problem is that you can only spray the bugs you see.

    "There's certainly no silver bullet to really get rid of the bedbugs," said Johnson.

    She said natural remedies "might repel bedbugs -- but you're going to have keep spraying and spraying and spraying to keep them away from you, and they might be in your wall or five feet away in your neighbor's apartment."

    Johnson agreed with other experts' forecast that 2011 might bring an even bedbuggier summer than last year.

    But she says there's a glimmer of hope: it's possible that in the future, there will be too many bugs and not enough people to feast on: that could serve as an evolutionary way to curb the population.

    Waiting for that to happen, however, might not be the fastest way to a good night's sleep.

    More immediate measures that might help, according to Jeffrey White of bedbugcentral.com:  move your bed away from the wall; remove clutter from your apartment; keep handbags and purses off the floor; and put baby powder in a small moat-like dish underneath each of your bedposts.

    White said bugs can crawl into the dish, but the powder will prevent them from crawling out.