Bed bugs were a common pest 30 or more years ago, but they were all but unheard of for a long time. However, they made a comeback in the early 21st Century. Many theories have been advanced as to why there has been a resurgence in bed bugs, the most common being that DDT, which was very effective against bed bugs, was banned in 1972. Also, the trend over the past several years has been toward using less and less pesticide, sometimes only monitoring rather than performing preventative treatment like baseboard applications.
Also, many pesticides have been taken out of the hands of professional pest control operators and homeowners. In addition, the decreased cost of international travel increased the migration of people and their pests over previously insurmountable distances.
Travel Tips for Preventing Bed bugs
- Choose luggage that can easily be wiped down with alcohol.
- In hotel rooms, put your luggage on the rack and away from the bed and other furnishings. Most hotels have large plastic bags for sending out dry cleaning; slip that over your suitcase when you are not using it. Do not put your clothes on the floor or use the dressers. Put dirty clothes in a plastic bag inside your luggage. Check out our article “Does Salt Attract Bugs.”
- Inspect your hotel bed. Pull back the mattress covers until you can see the mattress corners and look for the dark fecal spots. Take a flashlight with you and look at the crevices of the headboard. If everything looks OK, but you wish to be more secure, drape a sheet over the headboard so that it is between the headboard and the mattress.
How to get ready for bed bug treatment?
Your inspector will walk through your home with you and explain what preparations you should make, as well as give you a written checklist. Specifics will vary depending on where the activity is and the type of furnishings you have.
How to prepare the bed for bed bug treatment?
In general, the bed will need to be stripped and the bed frame taken apart. Any sheets and bedding should be carefully bundled or bagged and made ready to be taken to the laundry room. Wash in hot water or use the hottest dryer. For items that cannot be washed in hot water, they should be dry-cleaned. We can treat draperies, sleeping pillows, and decorative pillows.
How to prepare the room for bed bug treatment?
In the bedrooms where you are being bitten, clothing must be removed from the dresser drawers and nightstands emptied into plastic bags. This clothing does not have to be washed because it will be returned to the drawer after the drawer is treated.
How to prepare your closet for bed bug treatment?
We ask that you clean out the floor of the closet so we can treat that and don’t leave anything near the baseboard you don’t want to be treated. For example, shoes are frequently left out, and we don’t want to treat those. Hanging clothes, however, can be left on the rod.
How to declutter before bed bug treatment?
If there was ever a great time to declutter your home, this is it. If the likelihood that you’ll ever touch or need an item again is low, bag it and trash it. That is true whether the items are in a target room or elsewhere. Also, take a good look around at your children’s stuffed animals and toys, piles of magazines and newspapers, bags of clothes. We can treat the stuffed toys with a material that will not leave a residual and leave them safe to handle after the treatment.
What to do about pets before bed bug treatment?
If there are any pets or birds, they will need to be out of the house. Fish or tortoise aquariums will require special handling as they are very sensitive. You must shut off the air filter and securely cover the tank and any possible openings with plastic.
Bed bug Treatments for Apartments and Condominiums
Apartments and condominiums are tremendous challenges, but we’re up for it. The risk factors associated with apartments and condominiums virtually guarantee that sooner or later, you will be faced with a bed bug infestation. Being prepared for the situation is not a matter of just having engaged a pest control contractor. You need to have an experienced, aggressive bed bug specialist pest control company that can prevent disaster. The company you hire to get rid of bed bugs should have a staff of skilled pest control professionals. The costs associated with this problem can take whole percentage points off of your profit margin.
Apartments and condominiums can present the worst-case scenario for bed bugs. In multi-family dwellings, shared common areas (hallways and laundry), frequent high occupancy for each unit, and shared wall voids provide ample opportunities for spreading bed bugs very quickly. As a result, one apartment with a moderate to severe infestation can infest whole floors and multiple levels over a period of months. From the point of origin, bed bugs usually spread out in a pyramid shape. For example, using apartment numbers:
With 109 being the start apartment, the infestation quickly moves horizontally and vertically from the point of origin. This can take weeks or months, depending on how promptly it is reported and how intense the infestation is.
Treatment for bed bugs may not have been included in your annual budget. Still, a tenant’s potential expense and extreme distress are unlike any pest problems that you may have previously encountered. If you already have a pest control company performing maintenance services, bed bugs are probably not included. More importantly, they may not even be equipped to treat bed bugs or have personnel who can properly inspect and identify.
DISASTER CONTROL OR DAMAGE CONTROL
If your problem is fast becoming a disaster, we can get it under control and help you implement the processes and procedures to maintain that control. On the other hand, if you’ve been lucky enough not to experience an infestation so far or have just started dealing with bed bugs, we can keep your damage to a minimum and avoid disaster.
The good news is that if you act quickly, you can greatly minimize the number of units and buildings infested, thus reducing your expenses. Foot dragging, prolonged approval processes, ignorance of the on-site staff, and failure to have processes and procedures in effect prevent property managers from taking action that can save tens of thousands of dollars.
This is what bed bug removal companies might recommend:
- You need information, and your staff has to be trained. The pest control company you hire should offer training for on-site staff to recognize the signs of bed bugs. When many people in different levels of a company in different locations need information, we are your source.
- Put a procedure in effect that defines how you want the report of bed bugs from tenants to be handled. Your staff’s attitude toward the tenant will make all the difference. It helps if they understand that bed bugs have nothing to do with cleanliness or sanitation. Tenants are less likely to become activists and give you a hard time if their complaint is received sympathetically. This is one of those problems most likely to get reported to the Board of Health or have tenants starting petitions.
- The report of bed bugs or residents being bitten by bed bugs should be handled quickly with an evaluation by a qualified pest control company ASAP (ours are free).
- Encourage reporting – You may be reluctant to do so, and it may not be necessary unless you already have some reported infestations, but reporting may contribute to an atmosphere of openness. Once there is a confirmed infestation; however, the units above, below, and to each side should be inspected and tenants interviewed. The tenants least likely to report the problem are usually those who are heavily infested, those who have brought them with them, or those who are well aware of it. They may be terrified that they will be evicted (it’s not legal, but it happens). It must be communicated that reporting will not get you in trouble. Members of the staff who see tenants every day need to convey this and are probably your best emissaries and communicators to tenants, especially if they live in the apartments.
- POST on common message boards and dumpsters, if possible, that infested furniture or suspected infested furniture must be covered or wrapped before discarded. We believe it is a good investment of time for maintenance staff to supervise this in order to prevent spreading infestations. See instructions below for discarding a mattress or furniture believed to be infested.
- Amnesty for your employees – Not infrequently, employees whose homes are infested bring them to work. They may be fearful that they were the cause of the bed bug infestations in the apartments and believe that they might lose their job because of it.
Here is a possible bed bug scenario: The resident manager of an apartment building had bed bugs in his own apartment, which he was quietly trying to treat himself with very toxic chemicals. He did not report it. There began to be sporadic reports of bed bugs in the building (4 floors, 12 units each). The units were sometimes not adjacent and skipped floors, so all 48 units were treated at a considerable cost without a pattern. At the time of treatment, his infestation (2nd floor) was discovered, as well as his sister at the other end of the hall and a good friend on the 4th floor who had children who spent the night with a tenant on the 1st floor, and so on. When they were all treated and charted, the infestation was tracked above and below and side to side of each infested apartment. But the common thread was the resident manager. Training, policy, and amnesty could have saved a bundle of money.
What to do when a bed bug infestation is confirmed?
- Let tenants know that they should not throw away any furniture or take it out of the apartment. If tenants insist that there are items they want to discard, the disposal should be handled by members of your staff.
DISPOSAL METHOD – The mattress or furniture should be covered or wrapped in the room where it is located. You can cut up big industrial trash bags and tape them together or take a roll of plastic wrap and wrap it around the item. If this is not done, bed bugs and eggs can drop off in the common halls and multiply your problem. Either before it is wrapped, or once it’s in the dumpster, spray paint a big X on both sides or pour ketchup or jelly between the wrap and the mattress. People often take furniture out of the dumpster if it doesn’t look ruined, so ruin it. A bed bug-infested mattress or furniture could look like perfectly good furniture and infest another building.
- If distressed tenants ask to move to another apartment or want to move out entirely, they must be advised that the bed bugs will move with them. Even if they leave with only the barest necessities, the probability is still very high. Any movement should not occur until two months after treatment, and no one has been bitten.
- Post a notice in the affected building that bed bugs have been reported and volunteer inspections on the day of treatment. Better to know now than later.
- In addition to assuring tenants who report problems that they won’t be evicted, we suggest you be very firm if any tenant refuses recommended treatment, fails to prepare for the treatment or refuses to leave (we cannot treat while they are there). Some management companies (at our suggestion) imposed a $100 penalty fee for failure to be prepared, and it was very effective. Non-compliance by a single tenant puts the rest of the building at risk and is ample grounds for the threat of eviction. If the tenants in an apartment targeted for treatment move prior to treatment, we’ll treat the empty apartment, so hungry bed bugs don’t start traveling the wall voids looking for a new meal ticket.