There is nothing worse than having bed bugs spread throughout a multi-unit property because of lazy, inconsiderate tenants.
Just ask Jordan and her landlord.
The early July heat wave was hard enough, but when bed bugs were discovered it made things ten times worse.
Jordan and her cat Whiskers live in a three story upper unit of a twelve unit apartment building on the west side of LA. Beyond swaying queen palms is a peek-a-boo of the ocean from her very expensive “little piece of paradise” view as she explained to me.
Being a project manager for a large International Corporation, her last project had been extremely stressful and was looking forward to completing it. Jordan had been breaking out with little bumps that itched and she thought it was stress related to her job.
She had been looking forward to her two week vacation this year and planned not to travel too far and spend it relaxing around her home and on the beach with friends and family. She told me all she wanted to do is just chill and couldn’t wait to sleep in, get up whenever she wanted, and stroll down for a bite to eat at one of the famous restaurants on the boardwalk or maybe run up the mountain to visit friends for the day if she wanted to.
Well, her vacation didn’t start out as she envisioned. Instead of sleeping in, she woke early gouging at her neck again. She rose and went to the bathroom to see what was up. Her neck and half way down her shoulder had small red marks, again. She rubbed a little steroid lotion on them and didn’t give it another thought.
She cleaned her apartment as she normally does on Saturday mornings and by one o’clock took a quick shower and headed out for a bite to eat for lunch. She ran into a few friends that invited her over to sip a Bloody Mary or two (3 she said). A bit dizzy from her liquid lunch she decided to go back up and take a nap. Without hesitation, she crawled on top of her bed and fell fast asleep.
She slept until 5:30 PM when her phone rang to wake her up. It was her landlord. It wasn’t strange that he called because he really takes care of the building and counts on her to keep her in the loop when he’s out of town. But this time he said, he needed to warn her about something that he thought he had handled but doesn’t.
Not wanting to scare her but he had to be honest about the fact that he’s been paying his pest guy to take care of what he thought was a small bed bug introduction on the first floor, but turns out that the guy which lives right above (and right below her) refuses to cooperate for an inspection of his unit.
He went on to explain that his pest control guy told him that unless he inspected and treated all surrounding units, that he could potentially have a problem in other units as well.
Low and behold, he was right!
Jordan told him that she had woken this morning with itchy marks on her neck and shoulders but assumed it was caused from stress at her work. Her landlord immediately apologized and said he’d have his guy come over right away to see if bed bugs made it up into her unit.
Unwillingly a few days later, the guy finally answered the door for pest control to come into the unit below her. The man was a hoarder that had a very serious bed bug infestation throughout the whole apartment that caused bed bugs to move below and up into her unit. It all made perfect sense now.
She spent the remainder of her vacation, drying and bagging her clothing and soft goods, disrupting her life and living with new bites every few days until they are able to get it under better control.
This could have been a simple process had all the tenants cooperated and worked with pest control but because of one selfish and inconsiderate tenant; it has already taken several treatments and more than two months and they still are not sure they got them all. (The renter’s lease is up at the end of this month and was NOT renewed). Once he moves, they can get in there and do a thorough cleaning and extermination.
Jordan told me that this had been the worse vacation she ever had, thanks to the guy downstairs.
One Bad Apple can spoil the Whole Bunch
If anyone reading this is a renter – know that you can be the bad apple that causes others to go through needless anguish and costs because of your behavior.
Don’t be a bad apple. www.ibbra.org 888-966-2332
People Do – By Not Checking for Bed Bugs!
Infestations don’t have to happen. Matter of fact, infestations take time to build. (Unless, you purchased something that is already infested and introduced it of course).
Then, there are bugs that look like bed bugs but aren’t. Know what bed bugs look like.
Suppose you brought a single female bed bug back to your home and you didn’t know it. First, it would take up harborage in an area closest to you so it can reach a blood meal easily. It might be in your bed, couch or an easy chair that you frequent.
Soon it will start to lay eggs which will sit glued in a well-hidden, undisturbed surface for 7 to 10 days or more depending upon temperatures and moisture before they begin to hatch. The female may lay a dozen eggs one day or only a small amount every few days or so.
When the eggs hatch, the new baby bed bugs are hungry and need to feed in order to grow to the next stage of development. This is repeated 5 times with each growth spurt within approximately 21 to 39 days when they become breeding adults. Now you have new breeding grounds happening every few days or so. This whole process takes approximately 6 weeks with regular blood meals and proper temperatures.
Many times, people will show signs of something biting them but assume the bites are from other types of insects like fleas or a mosquito. And then, there are those who are not affected by the bites at all.
Meanwhile, weeks pass, more eggs are laid and more bed bugs hatch. New breeding grounds are growing all the time taking up residence somewhere in your home. If you don’t recognize their presence or at least check for them, within 6 months, with regular blood meals will reach exponential growth which now creates a financial problem and challenge for getting rid of them.
Usually at this point, they’ve moved outside the immediate area into cracks and crevices behind the bed, in nightstands, under carpet tacks, inside electrical outlets and into the wall voids. You may have also moved a few clinging on a blanket or pillow to the living room to take up residence in your couch or another bedroom. An “infestation” is now building, all because you didn’t check for bed bugs regularly.
Are Bed Bug Infestations Avoidable?
Sure they are, but you have to be hands-on in order to find them early enough. Check for them weekly as you change your sheets. Learn and look for their signs. (Blood stains on bedding, cast skins, fecal marks, and clusters of eggs)
Think about where you go and where you’ve been. Think about visitors and sleep overs. Take precautions when returning home from visits and discuss bed bugs with your friends, family and co-workers. Doing all this will certainly help find them earlier which can mean all the difference in whether an infestation has time to build up.
Having regular inspections for bed bugs will become the norm for most households in the future as well as sleeping institutions likes hotels, care facilities and hospitals. Problem is, when first introduced or in the early stages they are very difficult for us humans to find. Even the most well trained and experienced professional may miss finding them when first introduced.
Bring in the Dogs!
Dogs find bed bugs that humans can’t! They are trained for it just like bomb dogs are. A Bed Bug Detection Dog Team will help prevent “infestations”, help prevent from having to throw items away, will target and pinpoint the areas that require treatment, and if you chose to use chemicals, will limit the use of them. You can find some of the best dog teams in the US here.
Thermal Death and Steam
If you are a do-it-yourselfer, you’ll do much better using steam instead of reaching for a can of spray!
Bed bugs and their eggs cannot survive the heat of a steamer. (Not a handheld one for steaming clothing – a canister type). A good steamer will kill other insects and dust mites while cleaning and sanitizing your environment from bacteria and viruses at the same time!
Always suspect a bed bug if someone is being bitten; and conquer it quickly with immediate action. Having a good steamer available in your cleaning closet can make all the difference in whether they get out of hand and grow to infestation levels. Don’t wait until you get bed bugs to buy a good steamer.
Don’t know how to do it? Get “How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs on a Tight Budget” will walk you through the process step-by-step so you don’t miss a beat!
Whether you are a do-it-yourselfer or you want a professional, reach out to us for help! As always we’re here to answer your questions, help with solutions and education so you can make informed decisions and so you don’t waste your money, tested bed bug products.
Bed Bug Hotline caller:
My sister, husband and their children recently moved to our part of town. I so looked forward to having my family close to us again.
A few months back, my sister’s two boys spent the night at our home so they could attend an evening wedding out of town.
Of course my kids wanted to go to their house for a sleep over, so we made arrangements and since the kids were out of school, we exchanged children all summer long.
It certainly is nice having an evening off every couple of weeks for both my husband and I, as we rarely get a date night or private time without children for ourselves.
The kids always have a blast! We bar-b-q at the park, go swimming, bowling, to the zoo or show and always finish off with bed time stories and snacks. They talk about it all summer long and always request to go back or have their cousins come over all the time.
Our week exhibited the usual with rising early, making breakfast, getting ready for school, packing lunches, dropping off kids and off to work. Nothing out of sorts until, Thursday morning at the breakfast table, my three year old son sat scratching his neck. As I leaned over to check his neck, I saw five small red marks in a cluster. I immediately checked for a fever and there was none but I suspected chicken pox so I ran to the Internet and searched for pictures for comparison.
He was tired and cranky and wasn’t himself, so I made the decision to keep him home for the day to watch him. I dropped my daughter off at school and went back to the house to take total advantage of being home for the day. I spent the day cleaning and caught up with laundry while my little boy child curled up on the couch with his toys watching cartoons.
As I pulled the beds apart to change sheets, I noticed a tiny bug in bed. Since I normally don’t freak out about bugs, I grabbed it up and examined it close. It was something I had not seen before. I thought nothing more of it and continued to undress the bed.
When I got down to the mattress, I noticed dark marks clustered in the corner up near the head of the bed. I ran my finger through it and saw a bunch of these little bugs run out. I then FREAKED! How did I not know these were in my kid’s beds? I’m a very clean person and change my kid’s sheets sometimes twice a week.
At that juncture, I literally tore the room apart. I flipped the mattress, saw several of these clusters and made the realization that we had bed bugs and they have been here for a while. It all started to make sense to me now. Billy had been displaying small bite marks all summer long but living in Wisconsin near a lake where mosquitoes are bad this year, we never gave it another thought.
My heart dropped because now I had to tell my sister (whose children had spent lots of time at my house this summer) about our bed bug problem. I called her and asked her to sit down while I tell her something that she probably didn’t want to hear.
After I told her, she said, “Oh no, you have them too!”
Turned out that she had them in the previous home they were living in and suspected her husband had brought them home from a business trip. Pest control explained that it wasn’t quite an infestation but went ahead and treated before they moved and were told that they were all gone.
Her sister found remnants in her son’s bed but she thought she had them under control with a mattress encasement and bed bug spray.
This situation is much more common than one would think and with proper communication could have been completely avoidable.
Avoiding Bed Bugs during Sleep Overs
Face it, we can’t stop living our lives just because bed bugs are here so learn how to avoid and prevent them from being part of your life. Spend some time learning about bed bugs, checking for them often and talking about them with your friends and families. A little bit open communication goes a long way with bed bugs.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs on a Tight Budget shows you ways to eliminate them with plenty of prevention tips. You can read it for FREE on Kindle Unlimited!
John is a successful real estate investor who owns several rather large apartment complexes in the northeast part of the US. Pest control is a given and just part of his operating overhead which he adds into his budget each year.
He also has relies on his property managers to run a tight ship, keep all units rented with decent tenants, maintain the property well and keep him up to date on any problems with his investments. He and his managers meet once a month to address any issues of importance. For the most part, he has full occupancy because of the area he chose to buy in and hasn’t had to deal with too many evictions or late payments. You know what they say, location, location, location!
So all in all, John was a pretty happy camper. Yes, I said WAS. Well, until bed bugs came into his life. Not in his personal life – his investment life.
It started with a woman who had been living in one of his units for quite a few years. She was always on time with her rent, was quiet, never complained and was immaculate! In any investors words she was the perfect tenant.
She calls the office and complained that she was being eaten alive in her apartment by something and asked if they would send over pest control. Accommodating her request, the company’s pest control technician came over the next day.
John has had a contract for general pest control with this company for many years. He likes the “out of sight – out of mind”, where he doesn’t have complaints and people do their job as required.
After the brief in and out fifteen minute inspection, pest control gave a bid to the tune of $1,500 dollars. Gasping for air John replied that’s only a couple hundred dollars less than the rent payment! His tech answered by saying, I do two treatments two weeks apart and the tenant has to do prepare the unit in order to guarantee his work. John reluctantly agreed, sent the prep list to his tenant and they started elimination the following Monday.
John had never encountered bed bugs in his units, knew nothing more of bed bugs and honestly didn’t want to know, he just trusted his pest control company to do what was necessary. In the back of his mind all he could think was, “This better damn well work”.
Three weeks after the second treatment, his management once again heard from the same tenant that she was being bitten again.
When he called his pest control company, he said they wanted another $1,500 because it was past the 30 days.
John lost it!
John thought to himself, he obviously didn’t get rid of the problem the first time. Now he wants to know when he already paid him for this problem why is he charging him again.
Pest control told him that it’s common that people most likely re-introduce them. John assumed at this time that he had to charge the woman for this treatment so he had management send her a notice.
Of course the tenant was in an uproar and reached out to us. We sent in a bed bug detection dog team before the2nd treatment date to find out what was going on. The dogs alerted on the baseboard behind her bed and in her headboard.
We asked if the unit behind her or upstairs was inspected and she replied not that she knew of. We suggested that her landlord call us and he did.
After a nice long conversation about how bed bugs move within multi-unit properties, John had a new perspective on bed bugs and treatment options. Wondering why his pest tech didn’t explain these things to him, he made the decision to fire him and seek out a more experienced and ethical company.
The next company insisted on inspecting all surrounding units (which turned out to be the problem). The upstairs tenant had a very serious bed bug infestation but was unaffected by their bites. The bed bugs were moving through the wall voids into two adjoined units. The family that lived behind the tenant that was being bitten was also experiencing bites but thought it was from mosquitoes and had no clue it was from bed bugs.
Had the original pest control company be allowed to continue their type of treatments, the whole building would have had a problem in a very short amount of time.
This story serves as a reminder for all those who have rental properties to learn about bed bugs and put a pro-active protocol that includes education, policies and procedures in place BEFORE this happens.
Reach out to us and we will walk you through a simple but powerful way to insure this doesn’t happen to you!
Does figuring out which bed bug products work have you frazzled and upside down?
A big part of my mission is to help as many people as I can understand bed bugs and how to properly treat for them. The mistakes that people make are causing more spreading than we can keep up with. They are showing up in places that they’ve never been before and growing faster than ever.
The cost of hiring a professional to treat for bed bugs is out of reach for many and causes a person to run to their local hardware stores to buy up anything that has bed bugs on the label. Way too many calls come in from desperate people after they’ve wasted their money on products with the promise of getting rid of their bed bug problem and failed. So I thought I’d address this again so that hopefully people will read this BEFORE they attempt their project.
BED BUG FOGGER/BOMBS
These are total release (meaning they release the entire product at once) and were designed for fleas and other insects but were relabeled to include bed bugs. DO NOT – and I repeat DO NOT use these for any reason. This is a very common mistake that many people make because they are cheap. The bed bugs will likely become scattered, resulting in a more difficult treatment and costs required at a later date.
If you follow directions for use, you’ll place the fogger/bomb on a protective surface in the middle of a room and remove the seal to allow it to release a chemical in the space you are treating. Since the can is pressurized, it will shoot straight up into the air and the droplets fall on unobstructed surfaces (exactly where bed bugs DO NOT hang out). The chemical doesn’t even come close to adequately reaching the cracks and crevices where the bed bugs are.
They don’t kill the hidden bed bugs and eggs and in fact, used alone is one of the least effective treatments you can use for bed bug problems. Bed bugs can sense chemical odors and will run from it driving them deeper into cracks, crevices, under carpet tacks, electrical outlets and areas which are in-accessible by the chemicals these foggers and bombs release.
People are given a “false sense of security” thinking that with one application that all the bed bugs will be gone. The problem is that because people don’t understand they didn’t get them all and soon they start to get bitten again.
Out of frustration they go out and get more – thinking more is better. The vapors from these (especially when using more than needed for the space they are treating) can lead to a buildup of dangerous levels of flammable vapors and have led to an estimated 500 fires and explosions a year according to the California Department of Pesticides.
These vapors can be ignited by pilot lights (in a stove or water heater, for example), or by a spark from an electrical appliance that cycles on and off (for example, a refrigerator, air conditioner or thermostat). There have been reports of excessive use in apartment buildings and the pesticides circulated to other residents through the ventilation systems causing sickness.
These are called “contact” killers that mainly kill exposed insects. If you see a bed bug you can kill a bed bug. Problem is since bed bugs nature is to hide; these do not reach those hidden behind baseboards, in cracks and crevices of the bed, under carpet edging and in walls.
Furthermore, they will move away from the smell and scatter the bugs to other parts of the room or home. A prime example is pest control going into someone’s home and seeing bed bugs on the ceiling during early infestations. The first question they ask is who’s been spraying what?
DIATOMACEOUS EARTH (DE)
DE is relatively inexpensive and works by dehydrating or drying out the exoskeleton of insects. It is not a contact killer and takes time to work.
A big mistake made by many people is getting the wrong type of DE and another is, over applying it. There are three different types of DE which include pool, feed and food grade.
- Pool grade DE – it filters impurities in water and is dangerous to breath. The high heating process to make this grade alters the DE enough that it won’t work in your home, yard or garden
- Feed Grade DE – This type is not as common anymore because most people use food grade on their animals.
- Food Grade DE – This is what people should use because it is a multipurpose product that can be used in your home, yard or garden.
Although they are considered low risk with low toxicity, they have to be used correctly. I always tell people, if you see the dust, you’ve applied too much. Unfortunately, people tend to think that “more” is better and apply it in mounds throughout their whole dwelling. These mounds are like mountains to the bed bug and they will avoid it.
They are lightly applied in areas where bed bugs often frequent such as cracks, crevices, wall voids, electrical outlets, behind furniture, and under couches using a hand duster or brush. PEOPLE READ INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY! I often suggest using CimeXa to my clients.
Pesticides do have a specific purpose and are intended to:
- kill organisms that cause disease and threaten public health
- control insects, fungus, and weeds that damage crops
- control pests that damage homes and structures vital to public safety
Because we use pesticides to kill, prevent, repel, or in some way adversely affect some living organism (the pest), pesticides by their nature are toxic to some degree. Even the least-toxic products, and those that are natural or organic, can cause health problems if someone is exposed to enough of it.
The risk of health problems depends not only on how toxic the ingredients are (Pesticide Ingredients), but also on the amount of exposure to the product.
In addition, certain people like children, pregnant women and sick or aging populations may be more sensitive to the effects of pesticides than others.
To reduce the risk of health problems from pesticides there are several things you can do:
- Identify the least-toxic way to control your pest
- Always read the pesticide label first! Select the appropriate product for your site, method and goals.
- Read all precautions and warnings on the label prior to use. These are intended to help you prevent harmful exposures.
- Take steps to minimize your exposure, even when using low toxicity pesticides.
Many people believe that some pesticides are safe, while others are dangerous. Actually, the words “safe” and “dangerous” are misleading. Any chemical, including any pesticide, can pose risks to people, pets, or the environment. Understanding pesticide risks will help you take steps to minimize it.
The risk of a pesticide depends on two things, exposure (how much?) and toxicity (how poisonous?)
The “exposure” is the amount you get in or on your body, or the amount that is released into the environment. The toxicity of a pesticide is the measure of how poisonous it is to people or the environment.
Even products that are low in toxicity can be hazardous if the exposure is high enough. This is the basis for the argument that, “the dose makes the poison.”
When I talk about over application, some people tell me, “It’s OK I used a “natural” product. I always reply, “Water is natural right?” – But a Tsunami will kill you. Folks think before you overuse anything!
For example, one aspirin is beneficial for pain or certain medical conditions, but too much aspirin could be very hazardous. As the amount of exposure (the dose) increases, so does the risk.
Pesticides often contain more than one ingredient, and each one may have a different toxicity. One easy way to estimate the toxicity of a pesticide product is to look at the signal word.
Most pesticides will have either the word CAUTION, WARNING, or DANGER on the label, and that signal word reflects the toxicity of the product: 
- CAUTION represents the lower toxicity products
- WARNING indicates medium toxicity products
- DANGER stands for the highest toxicity products
HEALTH CONCERNS / PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUES
NOTE * the excessive use of pesticides can result in health problems and accidental deaths. As a result of pesticide use the bed bug is developing greater resistance to current methodologies. This oftentimes leads to overcompensating by increasing amounts of chemicals.
Remember, if you must do-it-yourself, it will take a conscience effort and continued follow-up. Bed bug elimination takes time and patience. Depending upon whether you have a recent introduction or a full-fledged infestation, after the first treatment you may have to go back several times and do it all over again.
Avoid making mistakes and read, “How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs on a Tight Budget” BEFORE you attempt any bed bug treatment yourself! Book is under twenty dollars and Kindle version with immediate download is only $4.99 It will save you from spreading them further, spending your money on things that don’t work and help keep your environment free of toxins for your family and loved ones.
Learn all you can about the nature of the bed bugs by visiting http://www.ibbra.org or give us a call 888-966-2332