They are the scourge of urban dwellers and suburbanites alike. A blood-sucking pest that lives, loves, breeds — and most disturbingly feeds — in our beds.

For most people the mere mention of a bedbug causes involuntary scratching and an overwhelming urge to put as much distance as possible from any potential infestation.

But for those who deal in pest removal, bedbugs are a highly lucrative business opportunity — one that has soared as the bedbug scare spreads.

Michael Goldman, education co-ordinator for the Structural Pest Management Association of Ontario, said in the past two years work being done by Ontario pest control companies has doubled. But industry growth is controlled because companies must be licensed through the provincial environment ministry, he said.

“It’s not like you can pick up a spray tank and start spraying, but there are companies that cut corners,” he said, estimating there are hundreds of individual licence owners in Ontario.

His company, Purity Pest Control Ltd., charges about $385 to treat a bachelor apartment with inspection, removal and chemical applications. It costs $400 to $600 for a one bedroom apartment; a four-bedroom home costs up to $1,500.

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