Bed Bugs – When and Why Chemical Treatments Fail
Since the mid-nineties, bed bugs have increased in the most pernicious way. This grueling pest challenges even the most experienced professional and we are understanding more about why chemical treatments fail.
With the most significant challenges coming from frequent layering of chemical treatments.
Whether you’re getting a professional treatment, or you’re attempting do-it-yourself; there are things that are necessary, no, mandatory, in order to eliminate them completely. Bed bug control requires a comprehensive treatment program and a lot of “out of the box thinking”.
Having been an “occasional” bug for many decades, few professionals understood them and education was extremely limited. They either learned about them from old timers or obtained information that trickled down through pest magazines, product manufacturers or seminars.
The reality for the general public wasn’t more than an old saying “Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite” from many years back. The IBBRA provides this education together with a Bed Bug Hotline to help.
Bed bugs are a unique day-to-day challenge because they are so unlike other common pests. You can’t set traps, like with rats. The only lure they’re attracted to is blood. Monitors and baits don’t work; and they’ve developed serious resistance issues to the most commonly used chemicals.
Cost of Treatments
Chemicals are the most popular treatment because of the cost. Demographics show, the median household income ranged from $40,037 to $75,675. And our call log shows the majority of those with an income of 60K or lower normally choose chemical (and DIY) because of its affordability. That’s close to 68% of the nation’s consumers.
Problems with Chemicals
Chemicals don’t kill bed bug eggs. You have to “wait” until they hatch. In the right conditions (temperature and humidity) this can take anywhere from 7 to 10 days or longer. This is why chemical treatments are normally scheduled around 12 to 15 days apart. Meanwhile, you need to remain the victim for all the newly hatched until the next treatment.
What happens in-between that time can make a significant difference. The bed bugs can be transferred to other parts of the dwelling. You can bring more in from work or travel, or can spread through the wall in environments like apartments or condominiums.
Growing Resistance Issues
The constant re-application of the same chemicals has caused growing concerns in resistance, so protocols need adjusting. Depending on who’s using what and how much, the scope of resistance varies from community to community.
This is not only a problem for technicians to figure out, but when left in the hands of a non-professional that has no training in the application of chemicals, proves completely futile.
Ranking high on the problem list is, improper inspections. Here’s some examples:
- Not spending enough time doing a proper inspection.
- Not identifying the insect properly.
- Not doing follow-up inspections
This process is extremely detailed in fact, you need to understand the client’s and family’s lifestyles. Things like, where they work, where they go, do they travel regularly, how many people in the home, do they have guests often, dwelling conditions and so much more. Proper inspections take time and a whole lot of effort, not fifteen minutes.
Puzzle Pieces that Don’t Fit
Finding hidden bed bugs, especially in early introduction, is like finding a needle in a hay stack. Someone might be being bitten, or breaking out with some sort of rash, yet no signs of the suspected bed bugs can be found. I often hear stories that pest control decided to “spray anyway” as a means to a prophylactic treatment.
How do you know your client might not have hives or an allergy if you can’t find evidence of any bug? It’s pretty much against the rules (for professionals) to be using any chemical without knowing the pest you’re treating for.
Inadequate Preparation for Treatment
Ranking very high on the list and of the biggest reasons so many bed bug treatments fail, is lack of, or inadequate preparation. Most people are handed a list of prep instructions that may or may not be applicable to the length of time bed bugs have been present, lifestyle or conditions of the dwelling.
Bed bugs represent something different for everyone. Knowing the “conditions” of the dwelling helps design a proper protocol.
When people have excess amounts of items, time restraints becomes an issue. We get calls from people all the time full of anxiety because they can’t possibly get everything done in time for their scheduled treatment appointment.
Excessive Personal Items or Clutter
Treating for bed bugs is a focused and targeted process. Clutter or an exceptionally large number of personal items present an even greater challenge. With stacks of boxes, piles of personal items or excessive “knick-knack” items in the way or exposed, can resolve in a total waste of time, materials and effort.
Disassembling Beds, Moving Mattresses
Bed bugs hate to be disturbed. If left up to the client to disassemble and move or stack their mattresses, scattering of bed bugs becomes a problem. Movement of anything more than sheets and soft bedding should be avoided until pest control is there to remediate the situation.
Some people are told to “bag” up whole closets, empty drawers, and linen closets. Without running them in a hot dryer or sealing them with a pest strip in a tote, can also cause a failure problem. If bed bugs were on any of those items, after treatment when bags are opened, the chance of “re-infestation” may happen. In actuality, it isn’t always a re-infestation, but possibly bed bugs on articles hidden in bags. Everything needs to be checked thoroughly, and possibly treated before placing in bags.
This talks loud. The lack of experience for some pest control and education for the client is of utmost importance. Depending upon the extent of the infestation, how long they’ve been present, clutter, possible shared walls in multi-unit properties, the game always changes.
Chemical treatment for bedbugs doesn’t stop after a couple of sprays. You can achieve a good knock down (if you don’t have resistant strains), but if any eggs are left behind to hatch after the last spraying, you now have the potential of starting all over again.
Not Inspecting Adjoining Units in Multi-unit Structures
We see and hear of this as one of the all-time high problems. Naïve, ignorant or cheap property owners respond to a tenant complaint and want only the complaining tenant’s unit treated.
Chemical treatments can drive the bed bugs further into the wall voids and move them to surrounding units. Moreover, the cause of a tenant’s problem may be coming from a surrounding unit.
Unless proper inspections are performed in surrounding units, one never knows if the incident is an isolated one.
Quick review of key reasons of failure rates using chemicals for bed bug treatments:
- Chemicals Don’t Kill Egg Stage (causing repeated treatments)
- Growing Resistance Issues (causing repeated treatments)
- Proper Inspections Required (finding all hiding spots)
- Inadequate Preparation (causing rescheduling costs or missed spots)
- Excessive Personal Items or Clutter (causing excessive treatments)
- Disassembling Beds, Moving Mattresses by Client (causing spreading)
- Re-infestations (Opening bags before bed bugs die)
- Thorough Education
- Follow-up Inspections
- Not Inspecting Adjoining Units in Multiunit Structures
This whole chemical process is a laborious task for the bed bug victim. In many cases, is literally impossible for elderly, handicap or the mentally unstable to complete what is needed to prepare for treatment. Likewise, this whole process often overwhelms them to the point of creating added anxiety for both pest control and themselves.
Changing Up Perspectives
As time passes, more resistance builds, and chemical treatments fail, we’ll will have no choice but to forget the chemical way of treating and begin a more 21st century approach like CimeXa and heat. We’ll talk more about the benefits of heat and why it may be the most innovative solution for bed bugs in our next blog.
We’re always here to help! www.ibbra.org 888-966-2332
The Smoke and Mirrors of Bed Bug Products
Learn about the best home treatments for bed bugs. Just open any cabinet under the sink in a kitchen, on a shelf in a broom closet or garage, or in the bathroom and you can find an array of products for every kind of surface or need.
Savvy marketing will create a well-planned, seductive story that will entice the buyer to spend money on their product over others. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but is how products are sold.
Everyone is searching for a solution to some kind of problem. People are influenced by videos, voice, music or pictures of “if you use our product” your life could be wonderful…
These aphrodisiacs are flashed across TV, Magazine pages, newspapers, web sites, labels or billboard advertisements to create the longing for such products that increase the “I want and need that!”
Of course there is always a fine line between reality and the gray line of marketing of how every product really works. However, people are easily seduced if the clever marketer can tap into dreams and aspirations of the buyer to induce the sale.
The words “may and can” are often used to hide the fact that if they were to say “will “or “guaranteed to” will get them in trouble with the FTC if they can’t substantiate or back up their claim. Many half-truths are found on labels, advertising and marketing materials.
Here’s an example from my past as a nutritional supplement manufacturer. There is so much deception in that field and you must be careful what you purchase.
Anyone can put a product on the market by going to a contract manufacturer. Matter of fact, most of them already has pre-designed products for private labeling. All you have to do is create your labels, purchase a minimum and start marketing.
Let’s say you put Vitamin E in the product that is fat-soluble and plays an important role as an antioxidant that protects the heart. Since Vitamin E is a big seller, you create an advertising and marketing campaign around all the benefits of Vitamin E. You put PROTECTS HEART on the front of your label and that is what people see that entices them to buy your product to “protect” their heart.
Now, you’re not exactly lying because there is a scant amount of Vitamin E in the product BUT you never tested your own particular product (not required by law) but now you are now selling snake oil to the masses that doesn’t know any better. All people can go by is what is on the label and if you bend the truth a little, they will never know.
You just created a false sense of security for anyone who purchases your product with the dream of protecting their heart by taking it. After all, you told them the Vitamin E on your label will. That is how easy people are sucked into buying products.
Each year, our consumer division reviews bed bug products and gives them either a thumbs up or down depending upon the efficacy, testing, need and value, and rates them from one to five stars. So keep your hands on your pocketbook for now and learn what does and doesn’t work and why.
We are here to help you make informed decisions and to determine the safest and lowest-impact control methods for bed bug problems.
Out of total desperation, people today will literally buy anything that has BED BUGS in big bold letters on the label.
You’ll read the words KILLS BED BUGS and grab it up. Yep that’s what you want, to kill bed bugs! Without restraint you hand over your hard earned money and head home in the attempt to eliminate all the bed bugs from your life.
Learning How to Read a Label is Really Important
There are around 32,800,000 results online for learning how to read food labels yet every product that the consumer uses has a label that needs to be understood.
If you were to continue to read the label on most of the bed bug products, the words “on contact” are slipped in! Just spend time in a hardware store one day reading labels and you will see all the tricky words and expressions used to entice your buying.
So in the mind of the unsuspecting buyer, he or she is assuming that if they buy the product and spray it, it will kill all the bed bugs on contact!
And in most cases it will, (so will drowning it with just about any liquid), but what they don’t tell you is, you have to (find every bed bug) spray it directly on the bug (making CONTACT) or you will be wasting the contents and the cost of it by arbitrarily spraying it all over surfaces.
You have to understand – you must find every bed bugs hiding spot
I recently heard from a young woman that read alcohol kills bed bugs, so she purchased four quarts (a full gallon) worth of 91% alcohol and sprayed it everywhere! She couldn’t understand why she still had bed bugs.
Sure, if she saw a bed bug and sprayed it directly, it would die, (in most cases), BUT spraying a full gallon of alcohol on all her furniture or belongings will only dissipate over time and does not leave any active residual.
KNOW THIS: Bed bugs are cryptic (hidden) by nature and normally won’t be hanging out on surfaces where people spray insecticides. So the importance of using any type of spray whether it is natural or chemical is – getting the product into all areas where the bugs are hiding.
Let’s suppose you spray all the baseboards behind your bed (upper and lower) and carpet edges. When you were spraying, you didn’t see any bed bugs, but sprayed it anyway with the thought that you were killing all the bed bugs.
“If” the product contained an ingredient that acts as a residual and leaves a lasting film or substance on the surface. Then, if it crosses over that barrier picks up the residual it may work on killing it. That is how most synthetic chemicals work that contains residuals (unfortunately there are proven resistance issues with them).
Whether it is a synthetic chemical or non-toxic, look for both field and clinical or University studies and most importantly consumer reviews that prove efficacy of the product so you don’t waste your money. And remember, these sprays don’t kill the eggs so within time, the eggs will hatch and the baby nymphs will be hungry.
Also, know that any product can show a positive result from a test because it was PAID for, so look for products that have positive reviews from either lots of consumers or pest professionals that are actually using it successfully with their clients.
As always, no matter what product you use, (cleaners, cosmetics, or pest products) look at it with a “Buyer Beware” attitude. Look at warranties – will you get your money back if the product doesn’t work as stated?
Bed Bug Bombs
Another product that has very poor results is BED BUG BOMBS. You can find plenty of BEWARE of BED BUG BOMBS all over the Internet. It is well known that these can spread the bed bugs further and are known as a complete waste of money.
Even the EPA warns against the use of these.
Effectiveness of Foggers
Questions have been raised about the effectiveness of total release foggers against bed bugs. Bed bugs often hide, especially during the day. The pesticides used in total release foggers must contact the pest to kill it, so if the material does not reach where the bed bug is hiding, the bed bug will not be killed.
Mattress encasements: Here’s a product that you can find all over the Internet, and at just about any store you could shop at today. Are they any good you ask? Sure, when I purchased my new mattress, the first thing I did was get a mattress encasement to protect it against sweat, dust mites, spills (my grandchildren, pets) allergens and more.
Mattress encasements were designed to protect mattresses and box springs and in the last decade have become very popular for the use in bed bug control. The encasement doesn’t control or get rid of bed bugs, nor does it protect against you introducing bed bugs. It really hasn’t anything to do with bed bugs, but does protect your investment.
They do protect bed bugs from getting into the seams, piping, grommets, pillow tops and any other comfortable hidden areas of the mattress and box springs. That’s all for protection folks! Do they have a value for that? You bet ya, which adds up to one less thing to have to treat and/or possibly replace somewhere down the line should you get bed bugs.
Get What you Pay For
Another reason they are used in bed bug control is after treatment they are applied just in case there are a few stragglers left. Many professionals will insists you get an encasement as part of their service. If any live bed bugs or eggs are left behind, they will keep them from coming out to bite and will eventually cause them to die.
Some people when having to dress several beds in a home go for the cheap versions of these. Beware of thin plastic materials that tear easily and protect edges that meet with the frame with soft cloths or tape to resist tears. Always check for tears on corners where they meet up with the metal or wood frames because bed bugs can take up harborage inside.
So if anyone tells you that they are a must – think again. But in my professional opinion, a must have for anyone that has a bed for more than just bed bugs.
Chemically Impregnated Sheets or Liners
Another form of a good sales pitch is Impregnated sheets or liners. Just because impregnated clothing and fabrics were used in the military for years, who says they were safe? Many of our military men suffer from horrible diseases and medical conditions and no one knows why. Could it have been what they were exposed to on their clothing and environment while in the military?
Today, people are much more aware of what they subject their bodies and environment to. A conscientious effort is being made in the manufacturing of furniture and bedding, the foods we eat and products we use. Face it, the GREEN movement is growing by leaps and bounds and for good reasons.
These are some questions and thoughts from callers regarding impregnated sheets and liners.
- If these sheets or liners are impregnated with a chemical (pyrethrins) which bed bugs are known to be resistant to, then why should I spend my money on them?
- Whether or not a sheet or blanket is covered over the impregnated sheet or liner, can the chemical be transferred or absorbed by the human laying in it?
- I want to get into my bed knowing I am not going to be bitten. Why apply something that has an 80% kill ratio over time, or may cut down their egg laying ability, when you can use heat or a steamer and kill them all on contact?
Read this from the Pesticide Research Institute
There are more than 300 pesticide products approved for use against bed bugs; most of these contain compounds called pyrethroids as the active ingredient. Many bed bug populations have developed resistance to pyrethroids and their botanically derived cousins, pyrethrins. Some bed bug pesticides are restricted for use only by licensed pest-control professionals. In general, professionals have the resources and experience to apply pesticides more effectively than residents can do on their own.
Pyrethroids are toxic to the nervous systems of people and pets (especially cats). They can also act as sensitizers, causing allergic reactions and asthma in some people. Some chemicals in this group show potential for long-term reproductive impacts through endocrine disruption. US EPA has classified permethrin as a probable carcinogen, and bioallethrin and bifenthrin as possible carcinogens. Bifenthrin is also a reproductive and developmental toxin. Most products containing pyrethroids also contain a synergist that increases the insecticidal activity of the pyrethroid. Typical synergists include piperonyl butoxide (PBO) and N-octyl bicycloheptene dicarboximide. US EPA considers both of these synergists’ possible carcinogens. In some areas resistance is an issue for treatment effectiveness.
Learn and Choose Carefully
This complete exhaustion of buying up non-performing bed bug products extracts a serious amount of cash from unsuspecting buyers each day. Remember, risk assessments for any pesticide use are important for you and your family’s environment. Leave chemicals to those who understand how to mix and use them properly!
When and how you spend you money it totally up to you, but always evaluate the extent of your infestation first. Make the choice of whether you are going to attempt a do it yourself approach or hire the services of a professional.
Hiring a Professional
If you hire a pro, make sure they are qualified by experience and ask lots of questions. Your choices are chemical or heat or physical labor of vacuuming, steaming and dusts. It all depends upon what they offer, how bad your infestation is and of course, cost.
If you decide to do it yourself, STOP and learn what you’re doing first! This is not a bug that is easily eliminated by a squirt here and there. Heavy infestations are better suited for a professional.
Now you know what products to avoid. If you want to know which products work best, give us a call or check out our bed bug product page for the number one winning products that have been tested for many years. Although we don’t sell these products, we can direct you to a product company or manufacturer that does.
We are here to help! www.ibbra.org 888-966-2332
If you think you have bed bugs you can
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!