06/28/2012 09:21 EDT | Updated 08/28/2012 05:12 EDT

Montreal fights off bedbugs

The City of Montreal is underlining the importance of taming bedbugs before Moving Day on July 1.

Through the city's new initiatives to help control the parasites, large bags will be made available for people to put their mattresses in.

"Don't touch those things and don't bring those things home," says Gilles Deguire, a member of the Montreal executive committee responsible for housing and social housing.

"If there's anything and if you're able to, cut your mattress and find a way to inform your neighbours not to touch those things."

Bedbugs have been a long-time concern for citizens of Montreal.

A survey conducted by Omnibus in 2011 found that 2.8 per cent of households on the Island of Montreal had been infested by bedbugs at least once in the 12 months preceding the survey. It is a small increase from the 2.7 per cent reported the year before.

The creatures are brownish in colour and wingless. They typically measure between four to seven millimetres long and can often be found on mattresses or in people's linens. They are nocturnal parasites that feed on people's blood.

Experts are divided on the best ways to control the parasites. Traditionally, people required the assistance of exterminators to fumigate apartments in order to get rid of the creepy-crawlies.

Community activist Arnold Bennett says people should do their research before hiring exterminators.

Bennett says he recalls a time when a woman asked the exterminator if the product he was using to get rid of bedbugs was safe for her cat. Though the exterminator assured her the product was safe, her cat died three days later.

The City of Montreal will continue its initiative to squash the small insects by providing bilingual education packages and giving additional information to building owners and tenants who are dealing with ongoing bedbug infestations.