Controlling Bed Bugs
Landlord/Property Owner Fact Sheet
Controlling bed bugs is difficult and can be a time and money consuming activity. However, bed bugs can be eliminated with a coordinated effort that includes cooperation of the tenants and landlord or property management. There is no single tool or activity that will eliminate bed bugs, including pesticides. Multiple techniques are always required because bed bugs are small, good at hiding and live without feeding for up to a year. In some cases, bed bugs are resistant to the pesticides used against them, meaning that many will survive treatment. The reduction of household clutter is absolutely necessary for fighting bed bugs.
Bed Bug Precautions
Responsibilities of Landlord
- Encourage tenants to report bed bugs (unreported and uncontrolled bed bugs will spread quickly).
- Keep records of bed bug (or other pest) complaints on site in a log book.
- Respond quickly to complaints with an inspection and corrective action.
- Develop a bed bug control protocol with elimination as the goal.
- Raise tenant awareness about bed bugs.
- Units should always be cleaned before new tenants move in.
Responsibilities of Tenant
- Read and follow all guidelines given by building management for reporting signs of bed bugs, and for cleaning and room preparation.
- Cooperate with staff and management in preventing and controlling bed bugs whether your individual living space is infested or not.
- Know the signs of bed bugs and check constantly for signs of them in your living space.
- Encourage other tenants to follow guidelines and cooperate with management.
Dealing with an Infestation
Preparation of a room for bed bug treatment is essential to the successful management of
these pests. Most pest control workers prefer to conduct an inspection before any cleaning or rearranging has occurred. This gives the pest manager an idea how serious the problem is and prevents the disturbance and spread of bed bugs before treatment. Once bed bugs are located and the size of the problem has been estimated, room preparation must be done by the tenant. Suggested room preparation steps include organizing belongings and placing them in bags, laundering all clothing and bedding, moving furniture away from the walls and emptying furniture of items for better inspection. Some tenants may need assistance.
Treatment of a living area for bed bugs should focus on containment of the infestation.
Do everything possible to avoid spreading bed bugs to new locations.
A combination of the following steps will be needed for bed bug control:
- Clean and organize the bed, bedroom, other living areas, furniture and belongings, including elimination of clutter
- Physical removal of bed bugs and eggs using a vacuum
- Barriers, such as mattress encasements and sticky barriers
- Sticky traps may be useful for monitoring but will not help control bed bugs
- Steam cleaning to kill all life stages
- Eliminate bed bug hiding spots (cracks around trim should be sealed)
- Chemical applications – do not apply on children’s cribs and beds
- Low risk pesticides
- Professional use pesticides
- Professional fumigation
- Prevention of re-infestation by treating surrounding units and educating tenants.
It is important to consider that a bed bug infestation in an apartment might spread to adjacent units or those below, above or to the sides. This is especially true if the bed bug population is high or if pesticides are used in the original unit. Adjacent units should be inspected and if bed bugs are found or residents notice bites, they should be treated as if infested.
Strategies that DO NOT WORK
- Abandoning rooms or even a whole facility is not a guarantee that bed bugs will die off. Adult bed bugs can live without a blood meal for over a year and will wander to find a new host when one is unavailable.
- The use of “bug bombs” or total release foggers is not advised. These devices release insecticide in small droplets that land on exposed surfaces and do not penetrate the cracks and crevices where bed bugs hide. This results in increased pesticide exposure to the resident and poor control of these pests. This has been linked to pesticide resistance and suspected repellency to bed bugs, causing them to spread.
- Discarding beds and bedding alone will not eliminate bed bugs. Bed bugs will spread quickly to walls, molding, ceilings, light fixtures, electronics, TV remote controls, alarm clocks, and spaces within and along floor boards, and the edges of carpets.
Guidelines for Prevention and Management of Bed Bugs in Shelters and Group Living Facilities;
J.L. Gangloff-Kaufmann and C. Pichler, New York State IPM Program, Cornell University 2008