Gary Shelton tossed clothes, a wooden bed frame, a director’s chair and cardboard boxes stuffed with papers from his community-activist campaigns.
Other clothes the 68-year-old Long Beach man washed, dried and bagged.
Then he waited. And waited. And waited.
An exterminator sprayed his ninth-floor Plymouth West apartment three times for bedbugs – December, January and February.
“If there is any evidence of bedbugs, they treat again,” he said.
Finally, in March, Shelton was given “the all-clear.”
“It’s like living out of an overnight case for three months,” he said of the lengthy process.
Experts say the reddish-brown bedbug, which is about the size and shape of an apple seed, has made an extraordinary comeback after a roller coaster of a century.
In the early decades of the 1900s, the bug was widespread across the U.S. But the advent of DDT during World War II changed that, killing off huge numbers in the 1940s and ’50s.
“We thought it was gone forever,” said Dini Miller, professor of entomology at Virginia Tech. “When you think about it now, that was kind of stupid.”
After lying low for decades, the dreaded insect that was mentioned in medieval European literature has been enjoying a renaissance of sorts since 2000.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they’re in apartments, houses, shelters, college dormitories, cruise ships, buses and trains. They typically live within an 8-foot crawl of where people sleep.
If you thought your car was a refuge from the blood-sucking pests, guess again. Miller said bedbugs are fond of automobiles – for good reason.
“The food comes and sits down on a regular basis,” she said. “And everybody gets something to eat.”
But you don’t know when your blood is being slurped through the bedbug’s version of a straw – an elongated beak – for a meal. The Centers for Disease Control say the bug injects an anesthetic and anticoagulant that renders its…