Strange bed fellows

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Council members listened to skin-crawling testimony on Philadelphia's bed bug problem, ending with promises to form a Philadelphia Bed Bug Task Force to plan an attack on the city's apple seed-sized squatters.

Wednesday morning a hearing on the extent of the problem included testimony from city health workers, exterminators, legal services and First District Councilman Mark Squilla, who described getting rid of bed bugs in his South Philadelphia home.

The takeaway?

The pests in Philadelphia are everywhere - one exterminator called 2014 the worst year he's seen for bed bugs and described residents who had to sleep in bathtubs or move out of their homes.

A University of Pennsylvania team reported earlier this year that the number of reports were increasing, that they came from all most all parts of the city and caused the most distress in the summer.

Squilla, who fought off bed bugs in April, has lead the charge against the pests. He introduced legislation in the spring requiring people who are throwing out their mattresses first encase them in plastic covers.

"It's no longer a secret and we can't keep it a secret we have to let people know the problems we're having," Squilla said.

Michael Levy, assistant professor in the Center for Clinical Epidemilogy and Biostatistics, who participated in the Penn study, testified that in one section of South Philadelphia of 596 lots, 66 had bed bugs.

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Strange bed fellows

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