FORT WORTH — Bedbugs are back with a vengeance. The northeast U.S. reports an epidemic, but North Texas is not being spared.
One apartment complex in Fort Worth had to be evacuated and another could soon follow suit.
Residents at the Bella Luxury Apartments said they've been complaining for months. Tiny little bedbugs are biting their skin, burrowing into their furniture, and costing them plenty of money.
The little blood-suckers crawl inside furniture. When they grow up, they leave their skeletons behind in tiny corners.
Most Bella residents are throwing out the bedbugs, but Rocky Garcia is keeping a personal collection.
"I'm on a fixed income; I can't afford new furniture and new clothes," he said. "Who is going to compensate me for that?"
Garcia started putting the parasites in a spice jar a month ago when he found them living in the seams of his sofa.
"I started itching, and one night on the couch I felt something crawling, and I put my finger on it — and blood started dripping," he said.
Across the hall, neighbor Maria Lopez had to replace several pieces of new furniture. She found bed bugs under the carpet and along the baseboards.
"I threw the mattress away because I found two, and that's enough," she said.
Lopez and Garcia said the Bella Apartments had an exterminator spray on Saturday, but the manager first told News 8 there was not a bed bug problem at the complex.
Then she said it was a little problem, adding that the complex sprays every two weeks.
She said residents with bedbugs are told to throw out their furniture. The problem is, other families claim those pieces and and take them into their own apartments.
The Bella manager said she has not reported the bedbugs to city health officials, but her tenants are about to. They can't afford to watch the parasites claim their furniture and bleed them dry.
The city told News 8 it will look into the situation at the apartments if it gets a formal complaint about the bedbugs.
The county health department says the bugs are a health nuisance, causing rashes and breakouts.
Bedbugs are not considered to be a health threat because they don't transmit a disease.
In April, an infestation of bedbugs forced residents of a downtown Fort Worth apartment high-rise to move out. Getting rid of the pests at the Hunter Plaza apartments at 605 West First Street was a major effort. Most of the residents were elderly and disabled and had to be moved to other apartments.
Bedbugs are most often picked up by travelers. That led to a bedbug registry, where tens of thousands of travelers throughout the U.S. and Canada post where they claim they found bed bugs.