HAWTHORNE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Exterminators in our area say they’ve been busier since the coronavirus pandemic started, due to an alarming rise in cases of bed bugs.

They say one reason for the increase is residents have been reluctant to let exterminators in their homes, CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported Thursday.

“I honestly didn’t think that it would happen to me,” Rutgers University art student Kate Moro said.

Bed bugs got to Moro’s off-campus apartment.

“That I know that they’re crawling on my skin in my sleep … I can’t. It’s just too much,” Moro said.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Favio Ulloa, the owner of Prestige Pest Services, confirmed the infestation and then his technicians sprayed chemicals and then steamed.

His bed bug business is up.

“Probably 50% more from last year,” Ulloa said.

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Ulloa said he has as many a seven bed bug jobs a day now, compared to no more than three a day at this time last year.

He said fear during the pandemic has kept exterminators out of homes, allowing bed bugs more time to multiply and spread.

If you have them, aside from tell-tale red bites, you may see dark debris in the corners of a mattress.

“Take a picture of whatever it is you find there because you can see the bed bugs. They are not microscopic,” Ulloa said.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Ulloa recommends anyone discarding furniture to slash and break it to avoid attracting anyone who might unwisely want to cart it home.

Owners of buildings and homes may pay $900 to $1,200 for treatments, depending on whether the job involves additional furniture moving and laundry.

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Clients like Moro get follow-up visits.

“We’re going to be coming back two more times to make sure there’s no more activity,” Ulloa said.

“I’m sleeping in my bed now, so I think I’m OK,” Moro said.

It’s a stinging reminder that COVID-19 is not the only bad bug out there.

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