The Battle of the Bed Bugs: Early Detection and Treatment

BY AMANDA MOSES

On February 14th 2016, the Spring Creek Sun featured an informative article on bed bugs. Remember, those pesky, tiny, flat, oval-shaped parasitic insects that leave red bite marks on your body, particularity on your arms or legs?Well, we’re writing about them again because bed bugs are the hardest pest to eradicate from one’s apartment. According to the Bed bug Registry, a free, public database of bedbug sightings in the U.S. and Canada, there have been 4,490 reports of bed bug infestations in New York City. One of the many places bed bugs can come from is through commuter travel, like the fabric on a bus seat or the wooden benches at a train station.

There are precautions you can take to try to prevent bed bugs from entering your apartment. Keeping a clutter free, cleanly home allows for you to be able to observe your surroundings to see if you spot the telltale signs of an infestation.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency these are some signs to tell if you have bed bugs:

  • Blood stains on your sheets or pillowcases.
  • Dark or rusty spots of bedbug excrement on sheets and mattresses, bed clothes and walls.
  • Bed bug fecal spots, egg shells, or shed skins in areas where bed bugs hide.
  • An offensive, musty odor from the bugs’ scent glands.

According to Bed Bug Central, a professional pest control information site bed bugs are yellowish, white or reddish in color (depending on their growth stage). These tiny insects can be found in any household because they are able to enter your apartment through clothing, luggage or used items such as beds and couches. The reason you don’t notice when you are bitten is because they suck your blood at night while you are sleeping.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that, “Since bed bugs are only about the width of a credit card, they can squeeze into really small hiding spots. If a crack will hold a credit card, it could hide a bed bug.” The agency found that bed bugs can often be found hiding: in the seams of couches, between cushions, folds of curtains, drawer joints, electrical receptacles and appliances, under loose wallpaper and wall hangings, at the junction where the wall and ceiling meet, box springs, bed frames, headboards and mattresses.

Preventative Care:

  • De-clutter apartment.
  • Keep a clean apartment.
  • Check the inseams of mattresses and couches periodically.
  • Keep a look out for red bite marks.
  • Never bring used or furniture found outside into your apartment.

So why are these bugs so hard to control? It appears that there is no exact chemical formula to fully eliminate bed bugs. That is why there are so many protocols you must follow to remove bed bugs from your apartment (throwing away furniture, mattresses, washing all clothes, etc.) Since bed bugs are so tiny and can pretty much hide anywhere, the only way traps work is if the bed bugs walk through them.
If you believe you have a bed bug infestation, immediately call the Maintenance Department at 718-240-4646. Maintenance will call a pest control vendor, who will contact the resident directly to schedule an appointment to inspect and treat the infestation. An informational packet will be given to the resident during the inspection, which they will have to sign. This packet will describe the preparations a resident must do so that treatment can be successful.

Preparation for treatment:

  • Bed frames must be dissembled for proper treatment.
  • Cheese cloth will be removed by a pest technician from box spring, sofa’s etc. (These items will not be replaced).
  • Remove drapery and all clothing and belonging out of all drawers, nightstands, tables, closets, wardrobes, and similar storage areas. Place these items and as well as bedding, pillows, clothing, paintings, mirrors in heavy-duty contractor plastic garbage bags.
  • Remove all switch/wall plates and light switch covers.
  • Remove television sets and stereo equipment from wall units.
  • All items in plastic bags must be sealed, and fabric-based items should be laundered. (Wash in hot water and dry it on the highest settings for at least 30 minutes. Do not load washers or dryers to more than 50% capacity. All washed items must stay in sealed bags for at least six months, or relocated for fumigation or treated with heat onsite.
  • The following items need to remain in bags for six months or treated by heat: Books, CDs, DVDs, Papers, Files, Toys, Electronics, Picture frames, and recreational equipment.

Some treatment services that are often provided:

  • HEPA Vacuuming in harborage areas and cracks and crevices.
  • Steam Treatment.
  • Dusting of wall voids.
  • A residual pesticide will be inserted in cracks and crevices.
  • The instillation of high quality “bed bug” rated mattress and box spring encasement throughout the dwelling.