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pest control

Bedbugs are found in many places, not just hotel rooms and houses.Anonymous/The Associated Press

Here's a bit of news I pass along to you with no pleasure at all – bedbugs are now a growing problem in cars. Bedbugs were all but eliminated in North America 50 years ago but they've been back with a vengeance over the last decade.

This unpleasant news for motorists was highlighted in a survey released by the National Pest Management Association in the United States and the University of Kentucky. The pest management people are bug exterminators so they have a vested interest in ringing the alarm bell, but who hasn't heard from someone who has found bedbugs in their home or hotel room? The Bedbug Registry has documented 2,270 bedbug reports in Toronto since 2006, including from people who have brought the nasty little critters home in a library book. Now it's time to check your car.

Bedbugs won't kill you and won't make you sick but they might drive you crazy. The bugs bite you as they try to tap into your bloodstream – which can cause itching, anxiety and loss of sleep. They hang out in dark corners of upholstered furniture and now, it seems, in car seats, too.

The problem increases in summer because that's when more people travel. Dragging luggage from car to motel room and back gives the bugs an opportunity to climb aboard. So does loading junk from garage sales and the like.

It's easy to become paranoid about this, but it's best to keep your emotions under control in spite of the pest management industry's dire warnings. They actually suggest you put your luggage in a sturdy plastic garbage bag before placing it on a hotel/motel floor. Frankly, if the risk is that great, what are you doing in that place? However, it is smart to check out the obvious locations in your room (they are called bedbugs) before you climb in.

It's worth taking precautions because ridding your car of bedbugs after the fact is not easy. They can survive year-round. Chemical warfare in the car exposes you to the same stuff and high-temperature treatments can damage all the plastic bits. So then you have to fumigate, which means wrapping the car up in a plastic tarp and pumping gas into it until the bugs are dead. That will set you back at least a thousand bucks.

Bug exterminators say "clutter" is where you find bedbugs. Take the necessary precautions and clean out your car. Otherwise, your ride could become part of the growing problem, one which, according to the survey, has seen its biggest increases during the past three years.

So take care this summer and, by the way, what is that you're scratching? Happy motoring.

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