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How to Deal with Bed Bugs

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Curbed University delivers insider tips and non-boring advice on how to buy, sell, or rent a home or apartment. Additional questions welcomed to Curbed Chicago's tipline.

Bedbugs are the worst. They bite you while you sleep, leaving you with itchy welts, and they're difficult to kill. But there aren't any bed bugs in Chicago – they're New York's problem, right? Wrong. Because some bed bugs have grown resistant to the pesticides used by exterminators, investigations are on the rise across the country. In January 2012, the pest control company Terminix released a list of worst cities for bed bugs in the nation, and Chicago came in fourth.

For bed bugs, condo buildings are an all-you-can-eat buffet; and for condo buildings, bed bugs are their worst nightmare. The trouble is, infested buildings are stigmatized, making it more difficult for condo owners to sell their homes. So instead of addressing the problem head-on, condo associations are often mum on the issue. "In an apartment building, one owner has the authority to enforce bed bug services or inspections," Sara Kantarovich from Smithereen Pest Management Services recently told the Tribune. "In a condo building, there's no one authority who can enforce those kinds of procedures." That can be a big problem, because in a large, multi-unit building, the only way to keep bed bugs out is to get the building regularly inspected, and, in the case of an infestation, to engage in nuclear war.

So what do you do if your place is infested? Before burning your clothes and throwing out everything you own, get yourself a good exterminator. Because bed bugs have developed a tolerance to many poisons, exterminators use a mix of steam, extreme temperatures (bedbugs can't survive in temperatures above 113 degrees), high-pressure vacuums, and pesticides. Small-scale, contained infestations tend to cost a few hundred dollars to take care of, and costs for larger bedbug infestations can run into the thousands. Companies like Pest Control Chicagoland offer same-day services and are available 24-7. But before you move into a new building, be sure to check the Bed Bug Registry, to make sure the building doesn't already have a bed bug problem.
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