Bed bugs have been driving hoteliers, multifamily owners and managers, and even single-family homeowners, well, just plain buggy in recent years. A new white paper called “Bed Bugs: The Issues, Challenges and Facts” seeks to rid some of the hype and histrionics surrounding the bed-bug scourge.
The discovery of bed bugs inside several high-end retail establishments made news last year. But it’s important to know that because bed bugs are most active between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m., they are overwhelmingly found in places where people sleep: hotels, homes and multifamily buildings. Bed bugs love a good blood meal, and sleeping humans provide them that feast.
Moreover, it’s entirely possible to bring them home with you from other settings. “Private property owners who can afford bed-bug remediation obtain it, but poorer people do not have that option,” Ron Harrison, director of technical services for Orkin LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlanta-based Rollins, Inc., and publisher of the white paper, tells MHN.
“So the possibility of picking up bed bugs exists in this country, because there is a fairly complete mingling of people from different economic strata.”
There are four ways bed bugs enter apartments, Harrison says. The first is by hitching a ride home from a trip. “Inspect hotel rooms before sleeping, don’t unpack you suitcase, and put your suitcase in the tub at night,” he says. “When you get home, wash and dry your clothes, or at least dry them for 15 minutes, because that will kill any bugs that came home with you.”
The second way is by bringing used and infested furniture into your home, while a third means of entry is to have overnight guests bring them in. The fourth way bed bugs enter apartments is my migrating from the unit next door.
Harrison urges property managers to ensure all apartments are bed-bug free before they’re rented to incoming residents. Renters leasing an apartment should be apprised of the fact it’s bed-bug free and that they will be held responsible if bed bugs are later found in the apartment.
“I would recommend all owners and manager have contracts that hold renters responsible not only for their own apartment, but for ensuring adjoining apartments are kept bed-bug free,” Harrison says. He also urges property managers to invite in pest-control professionals to give seminars to residents twice yearly on maintaining bed-bug free apartments. “Schedule a twice-a-year inspection of your buildings and make residents aware the community will be inspected for bed bugs,” Harrison says.
If despite all the above precautions, bed bugs nevertheless invade your apartments, be aware that eliminating the problem can run $400 to $1,000 per infested room. “You get what you pay for with bed-bug work,” Harrison says.