Here are some facts about bed bugs every landlord needs to know.
Nine Important Facts about Bed Bugs
1 – Even the adults are small, but the nymphs are transparent and practically invisible. (And Hungry)
2 – They are hiders, they hide under, in mattresses, and any soft furniture, behind electrical sockets, behind pictures, in dressers, underneath drawers, in your bed frame. Cracks in the floor, under the bedframe, baseboards
3 – About 70% of people don’t react to bed bug bites
4 – Bedbugs can and do crawl up the walls and across ceilings and drop on the bed. They cannot jump.
5 – They are attracted to carbon dioxide in your breath.
6 – They can live without food for 18 months
7 – One female lays from 200 to 500 eggs
8 – They can feed on pets too.
9 – 70% of all new infestations are in Single Family Homes
How To Kill Bed Bugs
1 – Current sprays need to directly be sprayed on the bed bug to kill it.
2 – There is absolutely no residual effect with these sprays.
3 – The spray does not kill the eggs which hatch 10 days later
4 - Diatomaceous Earth will kill them but takes time, as long as the bugs walk across it it will kill them.
5 – Heat over 120 degrees for one hour will kill them and their eggs as long as they can’t escape to a cool area. (ie. other apartments)
What Other Landlords Have Done
David Horwood, a speaker at the CAIC said he has begun offering heat treatment as an alternative to his tenants, but they have to pay for the difference in the cost. They don’t have to dispose of any of their belongings ($400 is the difference) or do laundry over and over. He uses Magical Pest Control. Heat treatment kills 100% of bedbugs and eggs as long as they have no way to escape it. For tenants with disabilities or unable to comply with all the extensive procedures required to get rid of bed bugs this might be the way to go. There is a chance that Ontario Works or Disability might fund the difference, they commonly pay for new furniture for these residents when the tenants have to throw stuff away.
Another landlord on the REIN forum bought a 75 lb box of diatomaceous earth and sprayed using conventional pesticides and also left a barrier of diatomaceous earth around the perimeter of the bed and on the floor of the apartment and reported good success with this method. It seems that a combined approach is wise! Diatomaceous earth used in pools isn’t the right kind. For more info on Diatomaceous earth and a supplier for large quantities, check out Dirtworks site. It is also commonly available at regular stores under the brand name of Insect-i-gone.
Seaton House in Toronto has created a heat room, where any infested mattresses and furniture can go to kill the bugs living inside. It might be a good preventative measure to create a heat room if space allows in your building to heat treat all incoming tenants belongings or “recycled” furniture the tenants might pick up. This will require inventive measures on part of your staff, you’ll have to move people in and out on different days rather than all 20 -30 people on the first of the month.
For vacant units, you can get the appropriate pest control product from the suppliers just like many buildings do for cockroaches and use it. For occupied suites, professional pest control is required for liability reasons.
It has occurred to me that those on a budget might make use of a 100 foot roll of 6-8 mil plastic available at Home Depot for about $25 bucks and several rolls of duct tape to make their own mattress encasements. Needless to say there cannot be any holes in the plastic and the duct tape must be 100% secure.
Double sided carpet tape will work as a barrier, they cannot walk across it, they stick to it.
Diatomaceous Earth will also kill them although this is slow. It is available at many stores, the brand name was Insect-i-gone. The bed bug must crawl though it, it makes a small hole in their skeleton and they dehydrate and die. Put it on the floor, dust furniture. Make sure you remove the cloth barrier under sofas and box springs.
If budget was an issue, I would encase my mattress as described above, completely 100% make sure that my bedframe is clear of bedbugs or buy a simple metal one. Create a barrier using double sided carpet tape on the ceiling and around my bed legs. Then get the exterminator in to spray all other areas.
One of the ones I called offered a Guaranteed Service where he would come in unlimited times until they were gone for $500. Next diatomaceous earth everywhere to be left (it’s safe for pets, people, Don’t breathe it though) so the bed bugs can walk through it. Next dressers, nightstands disassembled, and dusted with diatomaceous earth. Next avoid the house as much as possible and go back home to sleep every night, using myself as bait in the bed bug trap surrounded by double sided carpet tape and diatomaceous earth.
FYI almost any spray will kill the bed bug if sprayed directly on it. It keeps the bug from breathing.
Your Task Outlined
Your real job is simple, find and kill every single bed bug. First you have to find them, how you kill them isn’t even important. There is no quick and easy way to do it. You have to crush, spray, heat, a sometimes invisible (nymph stage) bug or tiny eggs that can fit in any crack or crevice and piece of furniture or laundry. Once found, vacuum, spray, a bucket of water, crushing whatever. That’s what you’re trying to accomplish.Then you have to make sure that none ever come back again.
Vectors of Bed Bug Infestation
Where do they come from? Well as they become more and more widespread… anywhere. Two hospitals in Toronto recently had infestations. Starbucks has removed their soft furniture in most of their locations. Oh and of course, schools… Children commonly carry around backpacks and put their jackets on the floor, they go to school where there are communal areas for hanging their coats and hats shared with 30 or so other kids. Offices, think about your office coat rack, here. It’s a wonder we don’t all already have them. Motel rooms, traveling. It’s more like where can’t you catch them…Antarctica is good, as long as you live by yourself and don’t go anywhere.
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