Once upon a time they were gone, but now they are back, all over the world, including Cranbrook. Bedbugs - Cimex lectularius - are booming, thanks in large part to the increase in human travel.
Bedbugs are small parasitic insects that prefer to feed on human blood. Their preferred habitat, in particular, are areas where people sleep. Bedbugs are mainly active at night and are capable of feeding unnoticed on their hosts.
The pests were largely eradicated throughout the developed world in the 1940s - largely through the use of the now banned pesticide DDT. In recent years, however, there has been a sharp increase around the world, particularly in big cities.
Con Murphy of Cranbrook Pest Control, recently returned from an industry conference in Toronto, which is undergoing a particularly severe infestation. "It's been on the front page of the Toronto Star almost daily," Murphy said.
And like everywhere, it seems, Cranbrook is facing its own rise in the bedbug population.
"There has been a large increase in Cranbrook over the past year," Murphy said, adding that the rise in travel is largely responsible. "A lot of people have traveled somewhere else - that's how (the bedbugs) are getting here," Murphy said.
Murphy stresses that the bugs can occupy anyone's home, that there should be no stigma attached to finding them.
"It's not a matter of economy, or the home - whether it's a clean home or a dirty home - it can happen anywhere."
But should you have gone traveling, and returned with Cimex lectularius clinging to your luggage, action can be taken.
There've been some great new products allowed out, Murphy said, both for eradication and for ensuring they're gone for good.
There are great ways of proving that the bugs have been thoroughly eradicated. "Step-ups," for example, or trays that go under the bed to see if anything is going up or down, contain just talcum powder - "so they're non-poisonous."
Murphy also stresses that bed bugs don't spread disease or germs. But they are still annoying, obviously.
"If you do see them, be proactive and deal with it right away."
Murphy says all staff at Cranbrook Pest Control are licensed professionals, trained and certified. They attend courses every year to get up to date on new products, and to know what to look for.
The degree of difficulty in getting rid of bed bugs varies -"it's case specific," Murphy said, "but the dryer and the vacuum cleaner are great tools. Heat is their Achilles heel.
"And we've found that by communicating with the customer and by getting it soon - the sooner the better - you can solve it."
More information is available on cranbrookpestcontrol.com. Cranbrook Pest Control is a member of the National Pest Management Association (www.pestworld.org), which has answers to most questions on the matter, and the Structural Pest Management of B.C. - "a very proactive association."