Kyle Freeland started waging war on bedbugs after an encounter with the little pests during a weekend vacation at a resort in Nevada.
Both Kyle and his wife were bitten, but Kyle’s reaction was much worse than hers.
“I was scared I was bringing them home in our bags,” Freeland said. “I decided from that point on that there’s a nasty little bugger that needs to be exterminated completely from the planet.”
So when he founded Just Bedbugs Pest Control in 2015, “we really wanted to focus on something we could specialize in and build that brand and that name, and become the guys that take care of that particular thing.”
Freeland had worked previously for a pest control company in California, where he attacked infestations of ants, spiders, roaches and other nasties, and learned a lot about bedbugs.
“Now I’ve got a mission from God and a personal vendetta,” he said.
The tiny, brown insects are shaped like apple seeds and feed on human blood. They cause minimal symptoms in people who aren’t sensitive to them, but others can experience skin rashes, blisters and irritation lasting several weeks.
Bites, often in a circular pattern or a line, may be the first indication of an infestation.
“Even one bug can bite two to five times per week,” Freeland said.
About half of the population is allergic to the bites and can experience severe reactions.
And contrary to their name, bedbugs aren’t found just in beds or hotel mattresses.
The No. 1 way they enter a home is through new or used furniture, Freeland said.
“I’ve had three cases in the last two months where it’s been brand new furniture in plastic coming from a furniture store,” he said. “When companies do that, and they replace your couch or bed, they take the old stuff and just drop it in the same truck next to everything else. Ideally, the trucks need weekly treatment.”
Even a purse set down in a movie theater can allow bedbugs to hitch a ride into a home, he said.
Freeland works with residential and commercial properties to rid them of infestations.
He treats several apartment properties on a regular basis to prevent the spread of bedbugs, using a technique that stops them in their tracks.
The bugs can crawl from apartment to apartment through the walls, so Freeland drills tiny holes near the baseboards of adjoining walls and injects a protective solution.
Treatments for an infestation have to be done twice, seven days apart, to coincide with the bedbugs’ breeding cycle.
It’s important to make sure they’re dead, because “they can become immune to an active ingredient or chemical and become super bedbugs,” Freeland said.
In some cases, Freeland has followed up on treatments by other companies that didn’t completely eradicate the pests.
“We even had one case where we were the fifth company to come out, and finally solved their problem,” he said.
Two treatments will eradicate them 92 percent of the time, Freeland said. The remaining 8 percent of infestations require an additional treatment.
Freeland, who holds the highest pest control license the state Department of Agriculture issues, is proud to say that his treatments have been 100 percent successful for his customers and guarantees that any recurrence of bedbugs within a year will be treated for free.
A new Colorado law (HB19-1328) that requires tenants to notify landlords promptly about bedbugs and landlords to be responsible for inspecting suspected premises within 96 hours and to bear all costs of treatment takes effect Jan. 1.
In light of that, Freeland offers bedbug insurance that allows landlords and homeowners to be proactive against bedbugs.
“You can cover your property for a set amount of money per year,” he said. “And then, if there’s treatments that need to be done within that year, they’re done completely for free.”
For a three-bedroom house, “you could pay $1,200 for your bedbug treatment, but with the insurance, you could pay $300 to cover yourself for a year, and if it happens, you just saved $900,” Freeland said.
“I think we’re the only company in the world that offers this,” he said.
Although he has done little marketing beyond word of mouth and a website, Freeland’s business has quadrupled every year. He’s on track toward six figures this year, he said.
“That’s good,” he said, “but it does mean that the bedbugs are getting worse.”