The bedbugs epidemic—or at least, an epidemic of stories—continues to plague urban areas! Today, the Washington Post examines bedbugs in the media: "'The bugs are back' is so perfect a trend story that it seems hand-forged by the trend-story gods. It's what happens when you combine a creepy villain, primal fear and squishy statistics."

A typical line reads like this one, from a story in the Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky: "The pest control service Orkin in Lexington has received approximately 30 to 40 calls about bedbugs this year; that's at least twice the number of calls about bedbugs received by the pest control company last year."

In New York, the city housing authority has fielded and checked out more than 2,500 bedbug complaints in the past three years; fewer than 500 turned out to be actual infestations. Even allowing for some overlap — two calls about the same bugs, for instance — that's as many as two or three callers who don't have bedbugs for each caller who does.

"We had a lady come in here with a garbage bag she said was filled with bugs that were biting her," says Matt Nixon of American Pest Management in Takoma Park. "She handed it to my dad and she said, 'If you open that and you get bit, it's your problem.' And there was nothing in there except lint, hair and dry skin. We deal with people like that every week." [Washington Post]

Graph: Google Trends on bedbugs. Bedbug searches on Google is the top section, and bedbug stories in the media is the lower one.