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Bed bugs are back… and they are back in full force. Media outlets like The Chicago Tribune, MSNBC, and Washington Post have been warning about the return of bedbugs across the United States. The general public, including apartment residents, are becoming more and more sensitive to the reality that their homes could become infested with these pests. Infestation can result in financial loss from lawsuits, damage to community reputation, and a loss of apartment residents.
Bedbugs… What are they?
Bed bugs are small, flat insects that reside in beds and other places in the home. They seek shelter in cracks and other little areas such as bedside tables, floorboards, ceiling, electric switches and wallpaper. Bed bugs are also known to be drawn to couches, chairs, and other areas where people rest.
Bed bugs are known to crawl long distances for food and will feed undetected. These bugs can devour up to three times their weight in human blood in just 10 minutes. Many people that have been bitten by bed bugs may have unpleasant
allergic reactions, not to mention the embarrassment these pests bring to their victims.
Bed bugs were common pests until the mid 1940s, at which nearly disappeared because of a pesticide, DDT, which was banned in 1972. Due to an increase in traveling, mainly international, and, consequently, the bedbugs are back. These pests get a lift from place to place, often in luggage, which makes bed bugs an alarming threat that can seemingly appear out of no where. People can bring them home from vacation and business trips, used clothing and furniture.
According to the National Pest Management Association, bed bugs have appeared from coast to coast. Professionals used to receive one or two calls a year for bed bugs; today they are getting an alarming number of one or two calls per week.
What Can Be Done?
First of all, people, especially in the apartment and hotel industry, should learn how to recognize bed bugs, their molten skin and other signs of infestation. Blood spots, reddish-brown fecal matter, and strong sweet smells are all areas where bedbugs may be present. As the apartment community managers and hotel management companies become familiar with the signs of these pests, they would be able address the concerns of their residents about the infestation of bed bugs.
Second, bed bug treatments should always be handled by a professional. Bed bugs are not, by any means, pests that can easily be gotten rid of by over-the-counter pesticides or by washing clothing and sheets in hot water.
It is important to know and understand what a bed bug treatment entails. When working with professionals, the following steps should be taken:
Inspection. Making sure that a professional performs a detailed inspection of the residence before any treatment takes place. The professional would look for common bed bug traces around bed frames, mattresses, nightstands, couches, hanging pictures, etc.
Clean the Room. Before any treatment occurs, it is imperative that the residence is clean and all the linens are stripped. Clothes, bedding, and even curtains should be placed in a plastic bag until washed so that the bed bugs are not infecting other areas. Vacuum bags should also be placed in a plastic bag and disposed of immediately.
Perimeter of Walls. The open areas between walls should be the first areas to be treated once the inspection has taken place. All areas including electrical sockets and surrounding rooms should be inspected and treated because bed bugs will migrate.
Bed Area. It is important to focus treatment around the bed area including headboard and footboard, nightstands, hanging pictures, etc to ensure that all possible hiding areas are treated. Next the mattress and box spring should be treated and allowed to dry before the bed is made. If the mattress and box spring is heavily infested, then it should be thrown out.
Furniture, Curtains, and Tables. A thorough check in furniture cracks and crevices in all rooms should be done. It is important not to miss any cracks on wooden furniture as bed bugs may be hiding in those areas.
Carpet Edges. All floor baseboards should be treated with the same crack and crevice treatment. The professional should pull back the edges of carpet, inspect and apply light treatment the tacking and the wall if there are bed bugs present.
Follow-Up. A follow-up usually occurs anytime between 5-14 days and include another inspection and treatment. This is a vital step in making sure that bed bugs are treated properly because bed bug eggs will hatch and may find an untreated zone to hide.
It takes time and work of an experienced professional to make sure that the bed bugs are treated properly. Bed bug treatments can become lengthy processes, but it is worth the investment to ensure they are eliminated successfully.