By Kevin Tibbles, NBC News Correspondent
I am reporting to you from the top-secret confines of Chicago's first national Bed Bug Summit.
BedBug University’s North American Summit 2010 isn't really a top secret; in fact, everybody and their dog is here – it’s even sold out. But the hotel it's being held in would appreciate us not identifying it. No duh!
It used to be the only time Americans worried about getting bitten by bed bugs (they can drink three times their body weight in blood, in case you didn’t know) was when we were travelling abroad.
But these days because we have travelled abroad so much, the critters have hitched a ride stateside. The Empire State Building, a Niketown store, an Abercrombie & Fitch store, countless hotels, libraries, movie theaters, college dorms, even a military base have fallen prey to these insidious little critters.
So now we've gone bed bug bananas from coast to coast.
The summit’s web site promises that attendees will have “direct access to bed bug experts from both academia and industry in a neutral setting” and that they will learn about “the latest advancements on topics like heat treatments, fumigation, early detection tools, pesticides, novel products and more.”
That means those who make a living sniffing and snuffing out bed bugs have all their latest wares on display.
Sniffing? Yes, there are bed bug sniffer dogs.
As for the snuffing? Well choose your weapon!
You can freeze ‘em with a cryonic zapper gun; or you can fry ‘em in the “Insect Inferno,” a high-temperature portable trailer. You can also encase your mattress in any number of plastic sealing "envelopes!"
“Instead of throwing your stuff away, let us heat treat in our trailer at 160 degrees and kill those suckers dead!” said Corey Westrum, co-owner of the Insect Inferno, promoting his weapon of choice to beat the bugs at the summit.
Beating the bed bug is big business! How big? Those in attendance say it's tripled in the last year. So why scratch? Fight back! Only I can't tell you where we are!
Kevin Tibbles, NBC News, Rosemont, Il. (Shhhhhh!)