You know you’ve got serious problems when you have to call in the Department of Defense to help with your bed bug infestation. That’s exactly what the EPA did recently on behalf of the besieged and beleaguered state of Ohio, which has been battling the bothersome bugs for years. Yahoo! News reports that some fatigued citizens of Cincinnati have resorted to sleeping on the streets in an attempt to escape relentless infestations at home.

Though many other states — most notably New York — have battled bed bugs, Ohio seems to have been hardest hit by the creepy-crawly epidemic, and citizens of the Buckeye State simply haven’t been able to end home infestations with commonly used DIY methods.

Desperate to find a solution, Cincinnati established a Bedbug Remediation Commission in 2007. Meanwhile, last year the Ohio Department of Agriculture petitioned the EPA for an exemption to allow in-home use of propoxur, a highly toxic pesticide that has been banned for residential use since the 1990s. Unlike DDT, to which bed bugs have long been resistant, propoxur can kill adult bed bugs within one day and continues killing newborns as they hatch.

Much to their dismay, the EPA ultimately rejected Ohio’s emergency propoxur plea due to the dangers the chemical poses to children. However, the agency met yesterday with state and municipal leaders, representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and even the Department of Defense, in an effort to formulate and agree on an abatement strategy.

While these various agencies work together to find an effective insecticide that’s safe for home use, they’re encouraging residents to take simple precautions. They recommend clearing out clutter, sealing cracks and gaps, vacuuming regularly, drying infested clothes at high heat, and using a durable, bedbug-proof mattress cover. They also warn against tossing infested mattresses and furniture to the curb, as that’s unlikely to solve the problem — bed bugs are incredibly resilient, can hide just about anywhere, and can go a year or more without eating.

See also:

How to kill bed bugs