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An upended mattress exposes bedbugs, prior to treatment. ((Niall McKenna/CBC))

A Regina pest control company says it is becoming difficult to combat bedbugs, an annoying insect whose population is growing across North America.

Shawn Sherwood, one of the managers at Poulin's Pest Control in Regina, told CBC News his firm has experienced a three-fold increase in calls to deal with bedbugs.

"We're doing one or two of these a day, five days a week," Sherwood said. "It's become ridiculous. We'll be back a second time in five to seven days. ... And unfortunately, we're now seeing that it requires, sometimes, three, four or five treatments to eliminate the problem."

Part of the problem, according to Sherwood, is that bedbugs have become resistant to the insecticides approved for use in Canada.

He said the federal government should allow more effective chemicals, which are available in the United States.

Itching and bites telltale signs

While the tiny insects do not pose a serious risk to health, they can create considerable discomfort. Like mosquitoes, bedbugs feed on human blood, usually while you sleep.

"You will see bites and itching after a couple of days from being bit and you'll start to wonder what it is," Sherwood explained about the most common signs of bedbugs. "That's when people come to us."

Health Canada responded to CBC News inquiries about treatment options via email, and said it had created a working group to examine the bedbug problem.

"A stakeholder working group has been created to facilitate the submission of applications to register products that would help to control this pest," the federal ministry said in the email. "The mandate of the working group is to help find a solution to the bedbug problem, which includes an integrated pest management approach."

Sherwood mused that it might take some personal experience, to move federal officials to more concrete action.

"Somebody with a lot of power in Ottawa will get bedbugs in their home and they won't like the solutions that we have and maybe they'll wake up and smell the coffee," Sherwood said.