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
Bed Bugs – We Can’t STOP Them, BUT We CAN AVOID Them
Bed bug populations are growing faster than we can keep up with and to top that off, the chemicals used for elimination are increasingly showing signs of ineffectiveness.
In many cities, growth patterns of bed bugs are so large that you can pick up one of these hitchhikers while sitting at your favorite restaurant enjoying dinner, at church, school, work or (just recently a caller admitted she picked up bed bugs from) lying on a massage table.
The most intelligent move anyone can make is learning how to avoid bed bugs in the first place. Since bed bugs have become part of life, as we know it, learning how to spot their signs will be important for everyone. Many people are not affected by their bites, and months can go by while infestations build up, yet the person has no suspicion they have them. Focusing on their signs will help detect them early enough to fight them before infestations have a chance to build.
TRAVELING AND BED BUGS
Most people are concerned in traveling and picking up bed bugs. You can’t stop your life because bed bugs exist, so be prepared to avoid them hitchhiking a ride back from where ever you should travel. After spending hours on the phone with people I wrote the “Bed Bugs Travelers Handbook” that teaches you how to pack and unpack properly! The best ten bucks you’ll ever spend to guarantee not bringing bedbugs back from a recent travel. This can also be used for those who have kids that visit camps, relatives or friends’ homes, bed and breakfasts or overnights anywhere. It will walk you through exactly what to do and look for and how to pack and unpack so you will not bring in a hitchhiker.
Some people live to shop for secondhand items, so don’t stop shopping! Learn how to thoroughly inspect items for bed bugs and if ever you suspect bed bugs in an item, learn protection skills BEFORE you place those items into your car, truck or back in your home. Most all items are salvageable by utilizing specific treatment options. Contact us we are always here to help!
APARTMENT MANAGEMENT AND TENANTS
Not always are new tenants at fault for bringing bed bugs in to your apartments. Many times, bed bugs may be present from the previous tenant or they could be coming from an adjacent apartment. Unfortunately, many property owners and management groups are unaware bed bugs are lurking behind walls or baseboards in units recently unoccupied. If these units are left untreated for any extended time, infestations continue to grow into extreme levels and spread throughout whole buildings. Since the units are not inspected for bed bugs, it’s always assumed the new tenant brought them in. This is when fingers start pointing and new tenants are held financially responsible for someone else’s infestation.
Learn the in’s and out’s of apartment living with “Bed Bugs for Landlords, Tenants and Property Management: Concerns, Challenges, Education and Prevention for Landlords and Tenants” infestations are explored from several unique perspectives, including history, identification, health, environmental, legal, control methods and economic consequences for all.
One of the smartest moves a property owner can make is talking about bed bugs with their tenants by educating their lessors and having regular inspections to avoid having infestations build inside the structures of the building.
If you are a hotel or motel provider, there are things you need to know about bed bugs. They are on the foot or luggage of your next guest. Anyone can complain about a bite and blame the hotel when in essence they could have been bitten at home or during their travels. When I receive calls from people waking up in a hotel with bites, before they point the finger, I always ask them if they could have brought them in on their luggage. Bed Bugs Hospitality and Risk Management covers what you need to know and helps you from giving away rooms and avoid bed bug lawsuits.
EDUCATING YOUR COMMUNITY
In order to keep bed bugs from spreading throughout our communities, we must educate all our residents. “Think Like a Bed Bug” was written for just that. Think…like a Bed Bug: A Guide to Knowing What Bed Bugs Are, Who’s At Risk, How You Get Them, How to Spot Them Early, Health Implications, Prevention … What NOT to do, Tips, And What To Do If You Get Them!
No matter what the occasion, where you travel, where you go, bed bugs are an avoidable pest if you know where and how they hitch a ride, and what to do to prevent their presence in your home.
If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to the International Bed Bug Resource Authority for the answers you need.
Don’t be afraid of bed bugs because they are here to stay. They are not any different from fleas, cockroaches, mosquitoes and mice because anyone can get them. The biggest problem with them is once they take up residence they can be difficult to get rid of. We can teach you all the in’s and out’s so that you can keep your family safe from expensive bed bug treatment.
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