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Rare form of bed bugs return to Florida

Posted at 10:57 PM, Nov 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-11 06:22:41-05

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA -- A rare type of bed bug is back in the state. University of Florida scientists confirming the tropical bed bug was found in Florida.

"If you think about it at night while you are asleep and you know something is biting on you and suck the blood out of you, you are going to panic," said Ivan Starkey, an exterminator over at Fort Myers Pest Control.

The tropical bed bugs disappeared from the Sunshine State 60 years ago.

"I'm pretty nervous because I don't like getting bitten up in my sleep," said Jonathan Welsh.

Even though it was found over in Brevard County, the tropical bed bug will bring unique challenges to exterminators.

"They happen to be really resistant to a lot of the chemicals that we use," said Brittany Campbell, a University of Florida researcher.

"The difference is they increase in population extremely fast," said Starkey.

Fort Myers Pest Control is ready for the challenge. They're experienced in the battle of bed bugs.

"We get 25 to 30 phone calls a week on bed bugs alone. We have three teams dedicated just for bed bugs," said Starkey.

Despite the tropical bed bug's resistance to chemicals, exterminators have their ways.

"The treatment still has to be done the exact same way to kill a tropical bed bug versus a common bed bug," he said.

There are ways you can reduce your risk of bringing them in your home by leaving your suitcases in the garage and take your clothes right to the laundry room.

"You want to throw them in the drier, dirty or clean. Throw them in a drier for thirty minutes on high heat that will kill bed bugs automatically and their eggs," said Starkey.

The timing of keeping them out is tricky. Bed bugs pop up out of the wood work six weeks after you come home.

If you find yourself in bed with them, don't be tempted to tackle them alone.

"The best thing that i would tell everybody is if you have bed bugs you have to call a professional, you are not going to fix it yourself," he said.

Starkey believes someone vacationing overseas brought them back to Florida.