Do’s & Don’ts
This information was compiled from personal experience, experience of having prepared over 1500 apartments, houses, homes, businesses, etc., comprehensive knowledge and collaboration with leading bed bug consultants, forensic entomologists and other pest management professionals. This information is intended to assist anyone undertaking the challenge of dealing with a bed bug situation.
If you observe red, raised bumps in a row or in a cluster on your body that are intensely itchy, here are some bed bug Do’s and Don’ts for you to consider that will help you make the right decisions about managing and treating suspected bed bug infestations.
- Using a flashlight, perform a thorough inspection of your bed–paying particular attention to the mattress seams, box spring (particularly the plastic corner protectors, and the underside), bed frame and head/foot boards. Be sure to rake all cracks with a business or a Metro card. Also inspect furniture near your resting area–including but not limited to: nightstands, wall-hung objects and baseboard molding. If you find no sign of bed bug activity, monitor for a few days. If after a few days, you experience bites again, call in a professional to conduct an inspection for you. You should know that bed bugs are so elusive that detecting the presence of them is very difficult–particularly in the early stage–even for pest management professionals, but a professional should know where to look and what to look for.
- If you hire a Pest Management Company (PMC) to conduct an inspection, be sure that they confirm bed bug findings before initiating service. Acceptable evidence could be: fecal spots; blood stains on linen, mattress or box spring; live or dead bed bugs; casings and/or eggs. If your PMC is unable to show you visible evidence, but you continue to get bitten, hire a company that offers canine inspections. While is it impossible for humans to successfully detect live bed bugs and/or viable eggs hiding behind walls, under carpets and in cracks in the wall, bed bug detection dogs are 95-98% accurate in detecting live bed bugs and viable eggs. If bed bugs are confirmed:
- Contact your landlord. The Council and The Bloomberg administration officials announced a new rule in March, 2011 targeting landlords who neglect bed bugs problems. Under the new rule, building owners must inspect and treat apartments next to, above and below a unit that has bed bugs. They must also notify all tenants when bed bugs have been detected and distribute a plan on eradicating them. The Department of Health is empowered to send landlords, who ignore bed bugs complaints, to the City’s Environmental Control Boards (ECB) who can issue fines. The city will place liens on those properties whose owners ignore those fines.
- Hire licensed professionals. Professionals are allowed to treat your space with “Restricted Use Pesticides” (RUP)–you are not. A pesticide, or some of its uses, is classified as restricted if it could cause harm to humans (pesticide handlers or other persons) or to the environment unless it is applied by certified applicators that have the knowledge to use these pesticides safely.
- Hire professionals with extensive knowledge and experience in bed bug treatment, control and management. Be sure to check their credentials. Compare treatment methods, cost of service, bed bug experience, etc. with other companies before making a decision. If you need help with the preparation portion of the treatment, hire a professional. There are few out there so again, be sure to compare service, experience, knowledge and cost of service with other preparation companies before making a decision.
- De-clutter. While clutter isn’t the reason why you have bed bugs, clutter could make eradicating them difficult. The more things you own, the more harborages bed bugs will have. If you haven’t seen it, used it or wore it in a while, get rid of it, but don’t do it on your own, call in professional to dispose of bed bug infested items for you.
- Educate yourself. Arming yourself with the information necessary to make a well-informed decision is critical in ensuring that the problem is dealt with quickly and efficiently by both a tenant and landlord. Do your homework. Your situation isn’t going to exacerbate in a couple of days. Doing your due diligence could save you money.
- First and foremost, Don’t Panic! Although bed bugs are annoying, you can get rid of them. If you panic, you may do things that will compromise other areas of your home. You may even put your neighbors at risk. Report it to your Landlord immediately.
- Don’t move into another room or on the sofa. Bed bugs are attracted to the carbon dioxide we exhale and body heat. They will find you when they want to feed. Also, doing this will infest other parts of your home.
- Don’t throw away anything. It is not necessary to throw away mattresses and box springs. A good, zippered encasement will keep bed bugs from infesting them. Be sure to choose encasements that are “dust mite proof” and have Velcro closures near the zipper. This eliminates the chance of bed bugs getting under the encasement if the zipper doesn’t close properly.
- In the majority of cases particularly when the infestation is in the early stage it is not necessary to dispose of furniture, prior to treatment. In fact, most infested furniture can be cleaned and treated. If you decide to discard anything, don’t do it without properly vacuuming and wrapping it. Wrapping will prevent bed bugs and/or their eggs from being knocked off the furniture in uninfested areas. It will also prevent bed bugs from spreading into other homes. Best if you hire professionals to do it for you. Finally, you should know that Department of Sanitation requires that all mattresses and box springs set out for collections be encased in a securely sealed plastic bag. Failure to enclose bedding placed at curbside or other designed area for collections by the Department of Sanitation is a violation–violators will be fined $100.
- Don’t buy furniture before ensuring that bed bugs are eliminated from your home. Buying new furniture won’t solve the problem. Also, you may be opening the door for the new furniture to get infested. Therefore, it’s best to wait until bed bugs are eliminated before you purchase anything.
- Do not attempt to treat bed bugs on your own. Do not use aerosol spray or fogger-based insecticides on bed bugs as they will only agitate them and cause them to act erratically.
- Bed bug infestations will not go away without intervention. Intervention is most effective when bed bug populations are low. While it wouldn’t be in your best interest to act hastily, don’t procrastinate as the situation could get out control in a matter a couple of months.