The bad news: Bedbugs are easy to transport, hard to spot, difficult to kill and love human company.
The good news is there's help.
The Central Ohio Bed Bug Task Force will host a public forum on the pests from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, at Vineyard Christian Fellowship Church, 3005 Holt Road, Grove City.
Experts will offer tips on how to identify and inspect for bedbugs and how to get rid of them.
The forum is free and open to the public, but registration is strongly recommended. To register, visit centralohiobedbugs. org.
Paul Wenning, who leads the task force, said there are common misperceptions about treatment, some of which can be ineffective or even dangerous.
"Treatment has to be done by a professional," he said.
Bug bombs or fogging simply do not work, he said, and tend to scatter the bugs to other rooms. Rubbing down surfaces with alcohol will do little to help, he said.
Heat treatment is costly -- $3,000 to $4,000 -- but effective and must be administered by a professional. The heat must reach 140 degrees for eight hours to eradicate the bugs, he said. Cold treatment works, but only if temperatures reach 40 degrees below zero for an extended period of time.
Pesticides, costing $1,500 to $2,500, also can be successful, he said. People can buy and manage the treatment themselves but are advised to get training from an exterminator and follow the instructions on the label, Wenning said.
It is possible any treatment might not initially work and additional applications might be needed, he said.
Wenning said part of the problem is that bedbugs are everywhere: churches, movie theaters, libraries and anywhere else that people congregate. They attach themselves to clothing -- shoes, oftentimes -- and infest housing.
Common bedbugs essentially feed on human blood. They're small, about the size of a grain of rice or apple seed, and mostly come out at night, Wenning said.
"Their food source is us," he said. "They want to be where we are."
People can take a few helpful precautions, such as not wearing "outside" shoes in the house and washing and drying new clothes before wearing them, Wenning said. He noted that simply washing clothes will not work. Drying them on high for 45 minutes should do the trick.
Bethany Dohnal, spokeswoman for the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging, which is participating in the forum, said bedbugs can strike in any neighborhood.
"A bedbug infestation can happen to anyone," she said. "Unfortunately, it's those who can't afford to pay for extermination who suffer the most. Education is our largest weapon against these pests right now."