The faces of Austin residents in attendance displayed noticeable disgust as John Phorbes, a professional exterminator, explained how best to fight those pesky and annoying bed bugs.

The North Austin Branch Library, 5724 W. North Ave., hosted an informational session on Saturday July 30, on how to combat the creatures. A packed audience filled the library’s meeting area to listen to Phorbes, owner of Rose Exterminators, who’s been in the business for 14 years. He told attendees that the bugs can come from a number of things, including garments belonging to neighbors, as well as students returning home from college. If bitten, 54 percent of people will have no reaction, Phorbes said, while 46 percent of people will have a delayed reaction-days or weeks-from a bite.

The bugs inject their own saliva prior to their bites, making their feeding painless and unnoticeable. They’re called bed bugs because they tend to feed on sleeping humans during the night, and mattresses are an easy place to breed. The bugs have a 2- to 3-year lifespan, resulting in an infestation of upwards of 500 bugs. They can also be found by light sockets and cracks in the wall, and the best way to control them, according to Phorbes, is through paying close attention and early detection.

Residents in attendance, though, were shocked and disgusted about the information they learned, many left scratching-and itching-in their seats. Phorbes also addressed several myths about the creatures.

Although they’re called “Bed Bugs,” they can be found in places outside the bedroom. Products advertised to control them also don’t have any real affect. Phorbes explained that among the best solutions is vacuuming and using green products-Cryonite, that freezes them to death, and old-fashioned fumigation. All of this, Phorbes noted, will take a lot of time to do thoroughly.

By the end of the presentation, he left residents with tips to stay pest-free.

  • Take care of the household, be proactive (anyone can get them)
  • Get rid of any mattress that is worn out or torn
  • They are known to die in heat over 135 degrees, so if they are on your clothes, just throw them in the dryer in high heat.
  • For most households, the bed bug epidemic is becoming more common than ever, according to Phorbes.
  • Other know facts surrounding them is that some are known to carry diseases, such as HIV, but there are no cases reported in which they were able to transfer the virus to a human. If a bite mark is noticed, a visit to a dermatologist is a necessary option, as most cases are often misdiagnosed by a physician.