GRAYSON COUNTY, TX -- As you pack up and head home from your summer vacation there is one souvenir you will not want to bring back with you. Grayson County pest controllers tell us they are seeing an increase in a pesky problem that might make your skin crawl.
At least five different pest control companies in Grayson County say just four years ago they rarely treated bed bugs and now they are getting multiple calls every month, some even several calls a week.
Pam Orr says nearly two months ago her daughter got sick after her Sherman apartment complex became infested with bed bugs.
"She could see them crawling up through the walls in to the carpet, and she herself my daughter had such an allergic reaction she ended up on the emergency room," Orr said.
According to the CDC, bed bugs are not known to spread disease, but their bites could cause a serious allergic reaction in some people. Bites can also lead to excessive scratching that may result in a skin infection.
"The rash was so bad she didn't know what it was and at the emergency room they told her there's been a bad bed bug problem in Grayson County," Orr said.
Owner of Results Environmental Pest Management, Art Harmon, says he has been in the business for more than 30 years. Just four years ago he had never encountered bed bugs. Now, he responds to up to five calls a week. He says because it is more affordable, there has been an increase in travel and that has made it easy for the bugs to spread, but there are other factors at play too.
"The decrease in use of the extremely toxic and long lasting residual pesticides that we had years ago," Harmon said.
Harmon says the pests are about the size of an apple seed and can often be spotted in the crevices of furniture. He says you can also detect them from their droppings.
"Fecal marks which of course they're diet is blood so their fecal material is going to be blood related so it's going to be reddish to rusty colored on the sheets and bedding materials," Harmon said.
Harmon says there are sprays you can buy off the shelves, even products that can prevent you from carrying them home.
"A simply pyrethrin spray that has no residual that you could treat the cracks, crevices of luggage," Harmon said.
However, if you do have bed bugs it is best to call pest control.
Harmon says one single bed bug carried home in your suit case could lead to an infestation. He says bed bugs feed off blood and the average female lays one to seven eggs a day for about 10 days after feeding.
For more information on bed bugs visit the CDC's website at http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/bedbugs/faqs.html.