Springtime in northern Ontario is known as the buggy season — and in some Sudbury apartment buildings, spring has been dominated by bed bugs.

The Sudbury and District Health Unit, which responds to complaints about bed bugs in apartment buildings, said the number of complaints about the blood-sucking pests are up this year.

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Authorities don't consider bedbugs to be a threat to human health, because they don't transmit disease, but they do bite and can lead to skin irritation and allergic reactions. (CBC)

Environmental health manager Burgess Hawkins said there were about 40 complaints last year. So far this year, the number is expected to be higher.

And he said complaints about bed bugs are on the rise across North America.

"For a long time, bed bugs were basically a non-issue," Burgess said. "They are coming back and they are hardy and hard to get rid of."

In most cases, landlords will voluntarily have the bed bugs cleaned up, he noted. If not, city bylaw officers can force them to do so.

Hawkins said bed bugs are difficult to control because they are hitch-hikers.

"Normally what'll happen is you will bring them into your house," he said. "Luggage is a key item, as are things like used furniture, etc."

Hawkins said bed bugs have yet to become a big problem in Sudbury.