By The International Bed Bug Resource Authority (IBBRA) and Institute for Responsible Bed Bug Control, Providing Valuable Bed Bug Education and Resources
If you had a serious condition that required surgery, would you hire your dentist? Alright you’re probably thinking that bed bugs are nowhere close to as important as choosing a surgeon but… if you don’t find an experienced professional for bed bugs it can be just as agonizing.
I retired around ten o’clock PM, laid my head on my pillow, heaved a long sigh after a rather let’s say “exasperating” day on the phone. It seem like that every call was from someone who wrote a large check for bed bug services yet were still dealing with bed bugs.
About ten minutes into my respite, I heard a distant chirp from my phone. “Darn! I didn’t turn the ringer off”. Since I needed to get up and turn the ringer off anyway, I made the decision to answer one more call for the day.
“Bed Bug Hotline, how can I help you?” Hi, can I talk to you about a bed bug situation? In a silent yawn I softly answered “yes, what’s going on, talk to me.” By the sound of her voice, I envisioned a rather frail elderly woman. I was right. After a brief history of her continued nightmare, she asked me, is there some hidden “secret” to getting rid of these bloodsuckers. I laughed to myself thinking, honey, if everyone knew the secrets, we wouldn’t be having the problems we have. Instead, I replied, “It all depends. Dealing with bed bugs takes an informed client that works right along with a highly experienced bed bug technician. Both have to work together for a successful outcome”.
We spent time on the phone as I explained more about bed bugs biology and nature, risks, prevention, ya da ya da and in conclusion; she admitted to holding the company completely responsible even though she had piles of clutter everywhere. I drove home the fact that “clutter” presents a failure nightmare when it comes to bed bugs. She then revealed that the technician “mentioned” that her clutter may present a problem, but never drove home the importance of possible failure because of it.
She thanked and blessed me for my time and said she wished she had known these things before she hired the company that she did. From what I heard her explain, she humbly realized the fault of her treatment failure was her lack of working with the requests of her professional. Since most people point the finger at their pest control company, it was truly refreshing to hear that she admitted she was at fault.
Of course, I stared at the ceiling for the next twenty minutes to unwind from the call and my mind started to wander. It made me think…if you had a raccoon, a wildcat, and bats in your attic or swarms of bees around your home, or if you need fumigation for a severe termite problem, who would you call. Obviously, someone experienced in such removal. I consider bed bugs just as important.
I thought I would address this growing problem, in hopes of guiding people to pay attention to the requests of their pest control company.
The process of bed bug removal isn’t like a broken appliance that needs no assistance from you for a service technician to fix. Yes, that gap in the windowsill plays a significant role in whether spiders, mosquitoes or any other crawling or flying bug gets into your home. If your professional points out “entry problems” for insects and asks you to fix it, do it! If you don’t, then don’t complain when bugs keep coming in, it’s your failure not theirs.
Leaving food dripping down the kitchen counters, trash piled and food crumbs on the counter-tops will certainly cause complete failure for cockroach elimination attempts no matter what the pest controller does.
So don’t blame your professional if you are not willing to do what’s needed.
By contrast, the potential enormity and complexity of eliminating bed bugs grows the longer you have them. It’s not asking too much to eliminate the clutter or clean up your environment to insure complete elimination.
Choosing the right Professional
The Internet is a great resource but can be extremely misleading. Bigger doesn’t always mean better! Many times the bigger the company the harder it is to micro manage all employees. Weekly tech meetings and people managers are necessary to keep everyone on the same page and drive home business ethics in order to maintain good customer service. Not all pest control companies, regardless of their size or web site words, are qualified and experienced to handle the most challenging aspects of bed bugs. How do you make a good choice?
Experience really counts when it comes to bed bugs. Find a qualified company that has intensive training, tools and plenty of experience to deal with bed bugs. Ask intelligent questions, lots of them! You should feel fully informed before you hire them and show up to do the job.
Look for companies that do the following:
- Proper Inspection and identification (including surrounding units if you live in a shared wall or multi-unit property)
- Establish threshold level for pest activity
- Show you evidence of your problem
- Employ appropriate control and/or management measures
- Evaluate effectiveness
- Properly trained in application and techniques
- Provide you an IPM information sheet of standards and Material Safety Data Sheet if using chemicals
- Specialize in bed bug treatment
You can ask these questions:
- How many treatments have they done?
- Do they commence treatment without finding “evidence” of the insect of question?
- What is their success ratio?
- How will the problem be treated? By what means of treatment and why that particular treatment.
- How many treatments does it take to get rid of them? (Be sure to fully understand the extent of the infestation, and the work necessary to solve the problem)
- Do they have any referrals or people you can speak to about their service?
- What results do they expect?
- How much is this going to cost you? (When dealing with bed bug treatment it can be costly – get several bids, beware of exterminators that offer bargains that sound too good to be true)
- Do they offer a post treatment follow-up or inspection? (with or without a scent detection dog)
- If bugs are found post treatment, will they continue to treat until all bugs are gone?
- Is there a warranty? (If a warranty is given, know what it covers, how long it lasts, what you must do to keep it in force, and what kind of continuing control, prevention and management are necessary)
- Make sure they do a proper inspection and find bed bugs and SHOW YOU THE EVIDENCE BEFORE they give you an estimate! Finding the extent of the infestation greatly affects estimates for treatment.
- Fully read any and all contracts before you sign. Find any “hidden costs” so that you are not surprised.
- Fully follow any instructions your professional gives you. So many times preparation instructions are not followed and treatment fails.
Ask them to cover the following in detail with you:
- Learn about re-introduction; review your work or school situations, vacations or any travel. Knowing your risks will help to avoid them again in the future.
- Learn what to do before you enter your home. Bed bugs can be picked up just about anywhere nowadays. Attending to your personal items before you enter your home can be the most significant benefit to not bringing in bed bugs.
If you are unsure or need help finding a reliable bed bug expert, reach out to the IBBRA, we can help! The IBBRA diligently screens their service providers who have extensive bed bug experience, care about their clients, are ethical, and are known for exemplary service. If you have any questions feel free to call us 1-888-9-NOBEDBUGS www.ibbra.org
Don’t be surprised if in the future you see signs that say, “Possible Bed Bugs Enter at Your Own Risk!”
In 2009, I wrote the first Bed Bug Detection Dog book with the vision and understanding of the future growth of this field of expertise. The book has been the go-to for several educational institutions, a teaching tool and revelation for pest control and an awareness book for readers everywhere.
Whether we like it or not, just like fleas, flies, ticks, cockroaches or any other common pest, which we are familiar, bed bugs, will and are becoming a way of life and will further their abysmal presence through exponential growth deep into this century.
Bed bugs have moved into first place as the number one most difficult pest to identify and eliminate because of their esoteric nature, sheer ignorance and denial of their existence for most. Since bed bugs are persistent miscreant hitchhikers and many people are not affected by their bites, they are carried daily by both people who cannot afford professional services and unsuspecting individuals to work, school, friends’ homes and frequented public places.
Unfortunately, the burden of proof lies on proprietors, yet at no fault of their own proving where the bed bugs came from is impossible. Intake procedures and running people through decontamination before entering all dwellings is not an option.
In commercial environments, once discovered, usually by a patron complaining or suffering from a bite, there is no way to know who brought them in or where they came from. A maintenance worker, employee, repairperson or a patron can introduce them.
This “proof” and burden falls on the proprietor/owner of the business to protect their environment; remediate, and in some cases compensate the individual for their annoyance. In some cases, the law becomes the conciliator between both parties with the proprietor normally taking the financial fall. This intermediary between parties to reconcile drains the ROI when handled by “reactionary” means only.
Reactive vs. Proactive Solutions
Because bed bugs come with a physical disgrace of “unkempt, dirty, low-income, street bum, and filth” accompanied with a bucket of emotional shame, guilt and embarrassment; most people don’t want to talk about them. The time for this ignorance to stop is now!
A more common sense approach is the only way that we can combat and control their growth in the future. An example of common sense is precautionary and prevention processes that initiate a vigilance to discover them early enough so that “infestations” are not allowed to build.
You wouldn’t go camping without a mosquito repellant, and you would certainly check for ticks if you frolicked in an open field, so the same type of precautions will eventually become the norm when it comes to bed bugs. Developing patterns of regular proactive inspections will be the only way to stay on top of infestations building along with mass public awareness and education.
Offering a Cloak of Protection
Regular Proactive K9 Inspections offers an extra layer and cloak of protection against the physical building of bed bug infestations, and early detection thus helping to limit the extent of bites to one or two compared to dozens from larger amounts of bed bugs found in “infestations”. They also help reduce the remediation costs of pest control by targeting the areas that require treatment to assist in avoiding treating areas that are not affected. Another benefit is reduction of pesticides when using chemical treatments.
Let’s all get our heads out of the sand and start talking about how we as home owners and businesses owners can make a significant difference in the way people look at bed bugs.
Visit the IBBRA web site to schedule proactive K9 inspections!
We are here to help!
www ibbra.org 888-9-NOBEDBUGS
Over the past decade, bed bugs have slowly crept their way into homes and businesses across our nation, stretching out from the inner cities into the burbs and beyond. For the most part, people assume bedbugs are seasonal because of the attention they received during spring and summer, but the fact remains that it doesn’t matter what time of year it is to them. The only thing that matters for a bed bugs survival is warmth and human blood, which our homes provide.
Aside from a few seasonal high traffic travel and visiting days during fall and winter like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s; normally people are less active during the cold winter. News of infestations and breakouts rise when the weather warms and people start moving around more. It’s not that they weren’t there during the colder season to begin with; they were hiding in places that people were not looking.
Infestations Take Time to Develop
Unlike other insects, the bed bug doesn’t lay all their eggs in one day. The female lays her eggs over the course of her lifetime. The process is temperature conditional and requires regular blood meals. Each egg takes approximately seven to ten days to hatch. Again, depends upon temperature and moisture. Once the first egg is hatched and the first instar (nymph) is introduced to the world, it requires a blood meal in order to grow into the next stage of development. This happens five times until they reach full adulthood and are now able to breed. This growth happens over twenty to thirty six days. So you might say that with perfect conditions the whole process takes approximately six weeks.
If this goes undetected or ignored for several months, infestations develop where people start to see the more serious signs including accumulation of shed skins, old blood stains (fecal or poop marks) and/or smears of blood from the bug feeding on sheets or other materials where a person rests for long periods.
(Since some people are not affected by the bite of a bed bug, months can pass before they recognize the fact they have them).
Temperature greatly affects bed bugs. If the temperature inside is too cold in the environment they reside, they go into diapause, which is like a suspended lifelessness, a type of hibernation. Unoccupied, seasonally used homes may harbor their lifeless bodies and eggs until the temperature inside warms to wake them to a possible host. The eggs won’t hatch and bed bugs don’t move around anymore than a bear would during cold temperatures with no heat source.
Transfer during Winter Months
Bed bugs will hitchhike during any time of the year. A characteristic example is during school winter break travel times (Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s) are students bringing home bed bugs. Alternatively, a holiday visitor can pick one up on their way and transfer bed bugs from one warm home to another.
According to callers, during the winter months many people breakout and suffer from a persistent rash, dermatitis, or hibernal eczema (dry skin) and bites are often mistaken as from dry itchy skin. People tend not to suspect bed bugs, don’t know about them or ignore the signs. After a month or so of lathering lotions and prescriptions with no relief, the bugs have built up and visible signs are now showing. At this time the news fills with new stories and the Internet search engines explode with people typing in the word bed bug.
Because bedbugs are a specialty pest, it takes a specialized education and experience when faced with a serious infestation on the part of the exterminator to rid them properly. Actual Certified Bed Bug Exterminators are few and far in-between.
Bed bugs are still a learning curve and some pest control companies refuse to do bed bug work because of the failure rates. The process of eliminating every bed bug is difficult enough for pest control but when the infestations are allowed to grow over many months, it present even more of a challenge.
It Takes Two – The Setbacks of Bed Bug Elimination
No matter what time of year, it takes a committed “team effort” that includes complete cooperation and assistance of the client to handle a bed bug problem properly. Especially with environments that contain clutter without this, efforts can be counter-intuitive and can fail.
Many people are used to cutting a check and allowing pest control to come in and do their magic while they are at work. Unlike other insects, the bed bugs nature is to hide in the most insignificant places where people wouldn’t dream to look.
Because of this, the client has to do a detailed accounting of most all their belongings. Depending upon the extent of the infestation, dresser drawers may have to be emptied, as well as closets, etc. Beds need stripping and items need to be dried in a hot dryer. Many other items may need removal; but there is a process that needs to be followed very carefully for success. Most people would not want pest control rummaging through their personal drawers nor do they have the time to do so.
Bed bug prep companies are popping up throughout the US that assist people that may have a handicap or are bed ridden or stuck in a frozen emotional state. They are fully trained in what to do to make the process easier for pest control to eliminate the majority of bed bugs on the first try by making the spaces where they usually hide available for access.
Reach out if you have any questions – we are always here to help you understand your role in bed bug elimination! www.ibbra.org 888-9-NOBEDBUGS
One of the leading challenges with bed bugs is getting everyone to work cohesively towards the greater goal of eliminating all the bugs. Unfortunately, it’s becoming harder than getting rid of the bugs.
What people don’t understand is pest control can only do so much. Because bed bugs are so enigmatic in nature, they are often hidden in places that need complete exposure and cooperation to treat properly. Sadly, clients don’t understand the importance of doing all of what is required on prep sheets for a successful treatment.
Creating Infection Control
Suppose you cut your foot and have an infection and you go to your doctor for help. He makes his diagnosis says he’s glad you caught it early and gives you medication and a protocol to follow to help the success of your treatment. It might include a change, addition or avoidance of liquor or certain foods or staying out of the sun for the duration of your treatment and it is expected that you will follow the protocol completely. In any case, he and you create a “partnership” that requires cooperation from both you and he towards getting you well.
Suppose your aliment requires taking a prescription for this bacterial infection and the doctor gives you a ten-day supply of antibiotics to take. He warns you that because of where the infection is located, you need to do exactly what is required so it doesn’t lead to more serious conditions like cellulitis or staph.
You fill the prescription, take them for a few days, the redness begin to fade (out of sight, out of mind) and you feel better so you figure you don’t need them anymore. You didn’t heed the doctors warnings or pay much attention to his requests for complete elimination of the infection.
Before long, the infection flares up but now it has moved further up your ankle and back to the doctor you go. You now put the doctor in a quandary of prescribing a much stronger and aggressive anti-biotic that is harder on your body but must be done in order to save your leg or maybe your life because it is showing signs of going systemic.
Prep Sheets Are Like Prescriptions
The same goes for bed bug elimination. Prep sheets are just like written prescriptions. They are developed to assist pest control in complete elimination of bed bugs. “Infestations are like infections” that must be attacked properly early on to avoid spreading. If the two of you don’t work as a partnership in the elimination of the “infected” areas, and don’t do exactly what is prescribed, before long, bed bugs will flair back up and take over requiring a stronger or more aggressive treatment.
Clutter and Hoarding
Most of the time, complaints come from those who have excess amounts of clutter or are hoarders. They are literally overwhelmed with the amount of work it takes for them to have their dwelling ready for pest control.
If you are too overwhelmed and can’t possibly do the work yourself, reach out and find someone to help. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have the dwelling prepared for treatment.
In some cases, pest control may have a division that does prep work at a cost. Techs that do treatment do not have the time to prepare your space nor would you want them rummaging through all your personal belongings any more than they want to.
People are Changing their Environments Because of Bed Bugs
A few years back I wrote about how environments would be changing because of bed bugs. Hotels are reconsidering their furniture designs to make finding bed bugs easier. Shelters are replacing wood frames with metal and summer camps where children frequent are changing as well.
The days of boxes piled in corners of rooms and under beds are changing as more people are beginning to clear out items that haven’t been used in years or are just collections of meaningless “stuff” that they haven’t gotten around to cleaning out. Since the chance of getting bed bugs is becoming greater for all humans, it’s smart to take inventory of your items and get rid of the things that would stand in the way of acknowledging early signs of bed bugs or cause failure of treatment.
Partnerships Help Accelerate Change
In order to get ahead of bed bugs infiltrating homes and businesses across our nation, it is important that as consumers we trust and follow complete directions and create a partnership with our pest control professionals for their knowledge and experience. Just like your doctor, your bed bug professional knows what’s best and doesn’t hand you a list for their own health. If more people did what is required, we could start containing infestations better which could lead to better elimination in some multi-unit communities.
Therefore, if your pest professional hands you a list of things to do so they can do their job better do your best to complete each item and if you have questions call them and ask. With bed bugs, there are no stupid questions when it comes to doing what is needed to get rid of them completely.
We’re here to help! www.ibbra.org 888-966-2332