updated 11/12/2010 9:49:18 AM ET 2010-11-12T14:49:18

They suck your blood, can leave an itchy rash and send shivers up the spines of clean freaks.

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And they're apparently in Idaho.

Bedbugs, that is.

The Idaho Statesman reports pest control agencies in Boise and beyond say their calls to eradicate the bugs from homes in southwestern Idaho have been on the rise. One company, Sprague Pest Solutions, says its bedbug calls are up 400 to 500 percent this year.

Pest-control giant Orkin says it's getting three to five calls monthly at its Boise affiliate, up from four treatments all last year.

"People don't want their neighbors to know — they don't want you to pull up like the cavalry," said Capitol Pest Management owner Bob Mitchell, who recently acquired a bedbug-sniffing dog to aid him in inspections. "They want you to come quietly. They're embarrassed. They don't sleep."

Other cities are also reporting bedbug bedlam, including a senior center in Blackfoot, Idaho.

In New York City, bedbugs have bolted their beds and infested landmarks like the Empire State Building, Bloomingdale's and Lincoln Center.

Ohio authorities, struggling against widespread infestations in Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton and other cities, are pleading with EPA to approve the indoor use of the pesticide propoxur, which the agency considers a probable carcinogen and banned for in-home use in 2007.

Why this apparent spike? Widespread travel, maybe.

Sightings of the rust-colored bugs, about the size of an apple seed, have surged around the nation in recent years. Experts have theorized that an increase in globe-trotting, coupled with the ban of certain pesticides, may be partly responsible for their spread.

Jayne Sorrels, director of the Interfaith Sanctuary in Boise, said the group's homeless shelter became aware of bedbugs last winter. The shelter tried several solutions, including putting bedbug covers on all mattresses and so-called "interceptor cups" on the legs of the beds.

Now, they've hired pest control agents to heat the sanctuary quarters to 120 degrees for eight-hour stretches.

"We bring it so hot that bug can't survive," said Rob Voss, Boise account manager for Sprague Pest Solutions.


Information from: Idaho Statesman, http://www.idahostatesman.com

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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