Bed bugs may be small, but the effect they have on the life of someone whose home is infested is huge. The process to get rid of the pests can be long, expensive, and frustrating. This problem has brought together around 75 companies in Chicago, all hoping to try and find the best way to kill the bug.
Bourdeau said bed bug business is booming. It went from virtually zero percent of Flynn Pest Control's business less than five years ago to about 20 percent of what the company brings in today.
"It's probably going to be a big part of our business for ... the next ten years," he said.
Companies attending the conference showed search and destroy methods ranging from bug-sniffing dogs to vacuum-like machines that spout carbon dioxide to freeze the bugs.
For example, The Bed Bug Baker features a heated tent that can hold a dining room's worth of furniture to bake away bed bugs at home. For hotel room infestations, there's an electric heater that can bake the whole room.
Another product is a dust made of crushed fossils called diatomaceous earth that can be sprinkled on floors. It kills bed bugs by dehydrating their shell. Bed bugs walk through the dust, which is also a desiccant, and gradually dry out, said Jeffrey White, an entomologist with BedBug Central.
Photo by Medill DC