KODIAK — Bedbugs have returned to Alaska, and they are a growing problem in Kodiak, along with other parts of the state.
Robert “B.J.” Johnson, Kodiak Island’s only licensed pest control expert, said bedbugs started showing up locally about five years ago.
Until this year, he had one or two cases annually. This summer alone, he’s dealt with about eight bedbug jobs in town. All have been in homes, he told the Kodiak Daily Mirror.
“I’ve had no issues with the hotels in town, which is a real confidence builder,” Johnson said.
Mariah Ervin with the state Department of Environmental Conservation said the agency gets bedbug reports from all over the state. The number has increased in Alaska just like it has everywhere else, she said.
The state does not count instances of bedbugs, and businesses are reluctant to disclose an infestation, so firm numbers are hard to come by. Cases have been reported in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Bethel and Healy.
As with mosquitoes, bedbugs feed on human blood. They are messy eaters. In infested homes, Johnson said, “I’ll pull back the bedcover, and there are bloodstains all over the sheets and the mattress,” Johnson said.
The blood, though not much in volume, is disturbing to homeowners who then must pay thousands of dollars to eradicate the pest.
Johnson said bedbugs are his least favorite pest to battle. The work involves several rounds of expensive chemical treatment and close coordination with the homeowner, according to Ervin and Johnson.
The state has no program to help offset the eradication cost. Ervin said prevention is the best way to fight the bugs.
Johnson said one thing people can do when planning to travel is to ask about a hotel’s bedbug-prevention program before booking.