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Bedbugs are bugging City Council

Hearings will be held on a SWAT team and task force to combat the pests.

CITY COUNCIL is prepared to fight the latest invader into the lives, homes and mattresses of Philadelphians - the dreaded bedbug.

Imagine now a task force established specifically to address the growing problem of bedbugs creeping into the small fibers of rowhouses across the city. Beyond that, Council will consider a Bedbug SWAT Team to work in conjunction with the Bedbug Task Force.

Councilman Mark Squilla said he had bedbugs in April, and according to one witness who testified before the Committee on Public Health and Human Services yesterday, Squilla won't be able to "start relaxing" for two years.

"I've had people sleeping in bathtubs. People move out of their homes," said Martin Overline, president of Aardvark Pest Management in Frankford and chairman of the Pennsylvania Pest Management Association's bedbug committee.

According to Overline, his company has been inundated with calls about bedbugs, suggesting that the level of infestation throughout the city is rapidly increasing.

"This confirms the fact that these insects are dominating the pest population in rowhomes, businesses and health institutions, with no cohesive citywide policy or resolution in sight," he said.

Squilla said this is especially problematic in Philly because a single infestation can easily spread across rowhouses. About 10 percent of homes across the city have a bedbug problem, and a stigma comes with it, he said.

Building upon yesterday's testimony, the Committee on Public Health and Human Services will hold hearings on the impact of bedbugs on people's physical and mental health, the rights and responsibilities of dealing with an infestation and whether to commission a task force to determine best management practices.