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Posted on August 20, 2012 with No Comments
It has an academic-sounding name — the Cimex Lectularius, from the family of Cimicidae — but it’s not welcome on library shelves.
It’s a bed bug.
Area librarians admit to heightened alert after Hamden’s library treated a couple of book shelves for evidence of bed bugs in response to a patron’s anonymous call Friday.
Middletown’s Russell Library closed for four days at the end of July because of bed bugs found in its audio visual department, and Danbury Public Library threw out three chairs with a few bed bugs last October after a trained dog found them in a routine screening.
Bed bugs in libraries have made headlines around the country, from Denver, Colo., to Norman, Okla., to Cincinnati, Ohio, during the past three years.
“Bed bugs are definitely on the rise. New York City used to be the worst area but they have spread out to the suburbs and Connecticut seems to be getting hit heavier than New York right now,” said Charlie Mastroberti of the Avon-based Quest Pest Control. His beagle, Ellie, became famous over the weekend for her work at the Hamden libraries.
“The odds are extremely low that you are bringing home bugs from the library, but can it happen? Yes,” he said. “This is the peak time of the year. Would it stop me from taking out a book? No way.”
Brookfield, New Milford and Bethel librarians haven’t seen bed bugs, but emails from state library officials have all facilities on alert.
Rosato had her staff check to see if any patrons borrowed from Hamden or Middletown libraries, and she’ll discuss the issue with her library board when it meets Monday.
“With more international travel and stays in hotels, people are bringing them home,” she said. “This is the practical experience you learn on the job.”
The Danbury Library, checked every other month for bed bugs by the Harlem River Hounds pest control dog, threw out chairs last October because of a few bed bugs, but the rest of the library has remained clean, director Michele Capozzella said.
“We’re on the look out all the time,” she said. “We’re in here too, so, when we checked out clean, everybody here breathed a sigh of relief.”
Capozzella said she’s been educating her staff, even showing them a sample bed bug, so they’d know what to look for.
The library now limits the size of bag a patron can bring in to the size of an airline carry-on to limit the chances that a bug is on board.
Last Friday, Miller Library in Hamden had some materials heat-treated after the dog, Ellie, put her paw near them on her search, but she found nothing at the library’s two branches.
Now, the library has a device with a portable heater that can hold up to 40 books and be zipped up to treat books if staff have concerns, interim library director Nancy McNicol said Monday.
“We really have been proactive,” McNicol said. “I can’t see anything more we can do now.”
“The first thing is, there are a lot of look-alikes to bed bugs, so they need to be properly identified,” Algon said. “Bed bugs are shy. They like darkness and don’t come out when there is activity.”
If you think you have bed bugs, get them identified, she said. If they are bed bugs, bring in an expert right away instead of spraying.
She said that is the effective way for most people to deal with them.
“A lot of the response to bed bugs is in the social response, but when you think about insects that spread disease these are not ones we should worry about,” Algon said. “If you want, before you bring in a library book, shake it well outside. Libraries are attending to this.”