How to Manage the Threat of Bed Bugs and Educate Your Residents
By Hope Bowman, Technical Specialist, Western Pest Services
With multiple residents living in close proximity and frequent foot traffic in and out of units, affordable housing communities can be prime breeding ground for bed bugs.
Bed bugs are small, wingless insects about the size of an apple seed. They are attracted to body heat and carbon dioxide and feed on human blood; they can even feed on pets. Nocturnal in nature, these pests typically only come out at night to feed when people are sleeping and go into hiding during the day in mattresses and box springs, behind headboards, and in couch cushions or other furniture. This makes it difficult to spot the pest itself.
Although there is no evidence that bed bugs can spread disease to humans, their bites can cause itchy welts, allergic reactions and other health implications. What’s more, an infestation can be expensive to treat and even result in litigation.
Unfortunately, you cannot completely prevent bed bugs. They can be brought into a housing community unknowingly at any time on furniture, luggage, bedding and, in some rare occasions, even on an individual.
To help keep this elusive pest from affecting your community, educate your residents on the signs of a bed bug infestation, including:
Inform residents of the steps they can take to help keep bed bugs out including dry cleaning and/or washing and drying clothing (the dryer heat kills bed bugs), inspecting luggage immediately after a trip and checking used furniture for bed bugs before bringing it into their unit. Also, encourage them to contact management immediately if bed bugs are suspected.
If detected, work with a pest management professional to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for the community.
Remember, while bed bugs cannot be completely prevented, educating residents on the signs to look for and encouraging them to monitor for bed bugs on a regular basis, can go a long way in the fight against this pest.
Hope Bowman is a Technical Specialist and Board Certified entomologist with Western Pest Services, a New-Jersey based pest management company serving residential and commercial customers throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.