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