It’s almost inevitable this difficult-to-detect pest will find its way into at least one of your buildings over time. Here’s how to eradicate the problem before an infestation takes hold.
By Hope Bowman
Bedbugs are flat and round, but very tiny. Adults are about 2 millimeters to 3 millimeters in length and brown in color, but they can appear reddish if they’ve fed recently. Bedbugs are a growing issue in the United States and are showing no signs of slowing down. When you consider that the insects were practically nonexistent 20 to 30 years ago, it’s even more shocking to see where we are today.
In 2015, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) conducted a survey of pest management professionals that found that 99.6% of pest professionals had treated for bedbugs in the past year.
While this staggering figure speaks for itself in terms of the prevalence of bedbugs, the survey also looked at where pest professionals are most likely to find the bugs. Not surprisingly, apartments, and condominiums ranked at the top of the list.
Beating out single-family homes and hotels/motels on the list, apartments, and condominiums, unfortunately, make great homes for bedbugs because of the insects’ behaviors, habits, and preferences.
Bedbugs are considered a “human” pest because they’re attracted to the heat that emanates from our bodies, our natural body odors, and the carbon dioxide we emit. They feed on our blood primarily, although they will feed on any warm-blooded host. That said, bedbugs can most often be found in areas where humans are present.
These bloodsuckers are one of the pest world’s best hitchhikers. Even though they seek our body heat when it’s time to feed, the bugs don’t like to remain on our bodies for long periods of time. Instead, they prefer to hide out on our clothes or in our luggage, traveling from place to place before settling into a new home.
As a result, bedbugs are tough to detect. It’s almost inevitable they’ll find their way into one of your buildings over time, and once inside, they can move from unit to unit. And they can live for up to a year without a meal, so they’re not going to disappear on their own.
That’s why the key to helping mitigate the chances of a bedbug infestation is to conduct regular, proactive inspections and contact a pest management professional as soon as you suspect bedbugs may be present. This can be difficult in multifamily buildings because it requires residents to conduct inspections on their own. However, most pest management companies will be more than happy to have a professional come out and conduct an educational program for residents and staff.
Some easy steps can help residents detect signs of bedbugs:
Once you suspect signs of bedbugs, it’s important to take action immediately. There are a few different options for treating them, but the recommended technique differs depending on the exact needs and circumstances of your building.
The upper echelon of bedbug detection, however, comes in the form of a canine inspection. Because dogs have an incredibly keen sense of smell, when trained they can accurately point their handlers to the areas where bedbugs are present. Indeed, dogs are the fastest and most accurate detectors of bedbugs.
Although bedbugs can certainly be a risk to the reputation of your business, being aware of the potential signs and actively working to spot them — and resolve issues proactively — can make a world of difference.
Hope Bowman is a technical specialist and board-certified entomologist with Western Pest Services, a Parsippany-Troy Hills, N.J.–based pest management company serving businesses and homeowners in major Northeastern markets.