I always answer this one with a…that depends

This question comes with all kinds of investigation and answers; and there are so many different variables and factors to take into consideration before one could get an idea of how long it would take to get rid of bed bugs in their particular situation.

Some of these include:

  • When bed bugs were first introduced to the premises and how long have they been allowed to reproduce? (Size of infestation in days, months or maybe years)
  • Is there an unusual amount of clutter within the dwelling?
  • Is this an apartment with multiple shared walls; and are their bed bugs in joining units? How long have they been there? (months –years)
  • Is this a home? How many people live there? Did you just move in? Was there a prior infestation in the home before you move in?
  • Where do people shop? (Secondhand stores)
  • Building materials – walls and flooring (which technique works best)
  • Where do people go on a daily basis? (Vocations and risk factors have to be taken into consideration for re-introduction possibilities).
  • Who visits on a regular basis? (Caregivers, etc.)
  • Has the home or apartment been sprayed, bombed or dusted with any previous chemicals or treatments? (Were Do-it-Yourself treatments done?)
  • Are people using “lotions and potions and things to kill bugs” in between treatments and not telling the pest operator?
  • How willing are those who live in this dwelling to work with a pest control company for complete cooperation? (Neighbors included in apartments)
  • What type of treatment is chosen
  • Is the landlord just looking for a quick fix or a proactive solution?
  • Resistance issues in certain demographic areas; and more.

You can see by this list that there are many things one must take into consideration when it comes to bed bugs. That is why they are so difficult to deal with and are unlike other pests.

In early stages of bed bugs, (I didn’t say “infestations) I said early – meaning a couple of bed bugs just introduced (hopefully before they crawled off your luggage and laid any eggs); a thorough vacuuming, steaming and tumble of all bedding and clothing in a hot dryer can usually take care of the problem and many have done just that.

In other cases bed bugs may have been there longer or they may have been “suspect” for a while. Success of a bed bug treatment is higher with full and complete cooperation of the resident, homeowner and all others.

Sometimes a single treatment is all that is necessary if bed bugs have not spread throughout the home.

Whole house heat treatments often are used which cuts down on treatment times and are turned over in hours compared to days with chemicals.

First, the extent of the problem needs to be assessed. How long and how many rooms are affected? (One may not know how long they have been there because some people are often not affected by bites or they may have not looked for any signs, or thought it was fleas or other pests).

  • Then the residents need to be interviewed to see where, when and how bed bugs are being brought into the dwelling. Knowing how the family moves and having a picture of life style helps to best address different scenarios.
    • Does the husband travel; is he a police or fireman?
    • Do the kids live in dorms at school and come home for holidays?
    • Is mom a caregiver or nurse or teacher?
    • Do you have friends or children’s friends spend the night often that may have bed bugs?
    • Is someone in the house or a visitor coming and going from an already infested area?
    • How about a housekeeper?

Exposure to bed bugs can come from just about anywhere and many situations need to be taken into consideration.

A treatment option is chosen depending upon affordability and choice, life style (senior or child, pets, allergic reactions to name a few)

Then a plan put into place that addresses all possible bed bug issues, education materials for all, re-introduction issues gone over, guarantees or warrantees if any, what is expected from residents as far as cooperation, future monitoring and follow-up is discussed in full.

The time it takes to get rid of bed bugs is in proportion to the size of the infestation and given situation. As you can see not all scenarios are the same.

With some; “It’s just plain complicated”

Severe infestation where bed bugs have been present for greater lengths of time (9 – 12 -36 months); and believe it or not there are those types of situations, can be complicated and requires continued cooperation from all involved.

I’ve known of pest control techs that have walked away from these types of jobs very well knowing it would be fruitless and will not risk the failure; it just would not be worth it.

Many times; areas are not assessable and have to be cleaned up first. This happens in hording situations and those with extreme amounts of clutter. How quickly those things are addressed and it what degree can lengthen treatment time.

Although there are some pest control companies and professional prep services that may offer these types of services; it is far and few in-between that are going to clean and unclutter your home for you that doesn’t come with a hefty cost. Both heat and chemical applications will be ineffective in these situations and must be uncluttered and prepared first.

Landlords and Management groups

In order to be “abiding with legal obligations and laws” that surrounds being a landlord or management group; many send in their own maintenance people to “appease” you by doing a spray here and there. This way you can never say they didn’t address the situation. Law cannot tell them what to do as long as they respond accordingly. These types of casual treatments often cause the spread by driving bed bugs into surrounding apartments.

Multi-unit buildings have lots of people coming and going in which these external sources keep re-introducing bed bugs. It is difficult to get these types of buildings under control once bed bugs have taken hold without stringent policies and procedures protocol, complete cooperation from all and regular inspections. Many people move from buildings that have experienced infestations because they are constantly re-introduced and are always dealing with bed bugs.

So to sum it up – living environments and cooperation from all make a huge difference in how quickly one can rid themselves and property of bed bugs.

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