Bed Bugs

One of my dad’s favorite hobbies was guns. (I suppose it was military influenced). I remember he would often go hunting with his friends and bring home a nice pheasant for my mom to cook. (If you have ever cleaned a pheasant you wouldn’t say lucky her)

Although he always kept the guns locked up he felt the necessity, to teach all of his kids how to properly handle and shoot a gun. We trained at a shooting range with an instructor.

Although he would take us to the “real” shooting ranges most of the time, he ventured out and purchased a carnival type shooting range. Of course, all the guns were chained to the table so that no one would get hurt. The targets were all different sizes, which were constantly moving up and down and across which made it difficult unless you are very experienced at moving target shooting. If you were lucky, to get the bulls eyes in the back (which were also moving), they would all fall and you would win a prize. It seems like it would be simple right.

Surprisingly, even some of the most experienced people (cops, military men) would have a hard time getting all the targets because of the movement of them. Quarters lined up in frustration, as people would say; “Now I know how to do it, let me try one more time”. We would smile and reload the gun “one more time”. Trying to take out a moving target is a difficult task, which takes great skill, and in a way, it reminded me of bed bugs in a multi-unit setting.

Once bed bugs takes up residence in a multi-unit property, it takes great skill and cooperation from all stakeholders to take them out. They are a lot like a moving target; you get one on the left and another pops up on the right or behind. Many times, I receive calls from property owners who have exhausted their efforts using every trick in the book to eliminate bed bugs from their property.

Let us say there is a six-story apartment building with eight units on each floor. Forty-eight units total. The resident on the third floor in the middle gets bed bugs but does not know it because they are not affected by the bites. Nine months goes by and now adjacent units (to the unit on the third floor middle) are starting to complain about being bitten by something. You go out and find bed bugs to be the culprit.

You really do not want to “talk about it” because of reputation so you keep it hush-hush. You would never want to alarm your other tenants and certainly do not want them moving out because of them. You call in your maintenance staff and send them out with the product you found on the Internet to be the recent “go to” for bed bugs. All is well for that tenant for the moment.

Two weeks later the unit on the other side of the one you just treated is complaining. You send your person out to do that unit. You are thinking all is well.

The lady in the first unit you did two weeks ago calls once again and complaints that you didn’t get them all and need to be re-treated. You go in again and do it all over. All is well. (You think)

This continues weekly for the next six months. At this time, you now have seven more tenants complaining about bites by some “bug”.

Now the family on the fifth floor apartment goes on a long vacation and will not return for six months. The bugs in that unit get hungry and travel through the structure in search for a blood meal. The person down stairs is a social worker that goes into people’s homes for a living and brought a couple of bed bugs home and the man down one level from him works for Goodwill separating the donations to place on the shelves. The woman up from those units moved and dragged furniture through the halls dropping bed bugs throughout the buildings hallways.

What started out as bed bugs in one unit has now spread into eleven units and you continue to go and do the same treatment for everyone who complains.

The bed bugs are now a moving target and continue moving within your building. You spray one unit and they move to the next. Just when you think a treatment was successful, they pop up again! Before long, the whole building is infiltrated with bed bugs.

Stories like this are more common than not. Unfortunately, at this time it is going to take cooperation that is much more community active with much more money to resolve this problem. Bed bugs are difficult to control without a concise plan in place and can affect the mental state and well-being of your tenants.

Before you are caught up in this mess, learn as much as you can about bed bugs and educate your tenants! It is not “if” you get them, it is “when” and how you deal with them.

Call the IBBRA or one of our members to learn about our Layered Defense Strategy™ before you have to deal with bed bugs and the spreading of them throughout your units!