Got Bedbugs in your Rental Unit?
Where they come from – How they act –
How to get rid of them
Just writing this article made me itch!!
The Rising Bed Bug Epidemic
Since the early 2000s there has been an increase in bed bug cases in New York City. A lot of exterminators and entomologists (people who study insects) blame it on the fact that there are so many international travelers to our city.
Whatever the reason, this pesky problem causes landlords and tenants a lot of aggravation. Landlords need to know how to deal with the problem. Keep reading and you will soon understand why no landlord should leave this problem up to the tenant to resolve.
These bugs do not discriminate between clean houses and dirty houses, although clutter does provide a comfortable hiding place for them. They can be found in clean houses, hotels, schools, hospitals, dormitories, condominiums and any other place where a human being sleep. Why??? Because they feed off of blood – and we humans are their food of choice.
So here are some facts as extracted from Wikipedia.org. about this tiny pest that causes a humongous problem:
What is a bedbug?
The bedbug is an insect of the family Cimicidae that lives by feeding on the blood of humans and other warm-blooded hosts. Its name comes from its preferred habitat: mattresses, sofas, and other furniture. Although not strictly nocturnal, bedbugs are mainly active at night.
The common bedbug (Cimex lectularius) is the species best adapted to human environments. It is found in temperate climates throughout the world and feeds on blood.
How Did They Get into My Building, Apartment or House?
People can often pick them up in places such as hotels and motels and bring them back home in their luggage or clothing. They are also transported inadvertently by bringing used furniture (especially mattresses) or clothing into the home. They can also be transmitted by household pets. Then they travel between units in multi-family dwellings.
How They Travel:
Because their bodies are flat, bedbugs travel easily and quickly along pipes and boards and they hide in tiny crevices. They have a natural aversion for sunlight and therefore come out at night. In the daytime, they hide in places such as mattress seams, mattress interiors, bedframes, furniture, carpeting, baseboards, inner walls, tiny wood holes, and bedroom clutter. They are capable of traveling as far as 100 feet to feed but they usually stay close to the host (their meal) in bedrooms or on sofas where people may sleep.
Bedbugs are normally active just before dawn, with a peak feeding period about an hour before sunrise. However, they may attempt to feed at other times, given the opportunity. They reach their host by crawling, or sometimes climb the walls to the ceiling and drop down on feeling a heat wave. Attracted by warmth and the presence of carbon dioxide, the bug pierces the skin of its host with two hollow tubes. With one tube it injects its saliva, which contains anticoagulants and anesthetics, while with the other it withdraws the blood of its host. After feeding for about five minutes, the bug returns to its hiding place. The bites cannot usually be felt until some minutes or hours later, as a dermatological reaction to the injected agents, and the first indication of a bite usually comes from the desire to scratch the bite site. Bites may be found in a variety of places on the body.
Although bedbugs can live for a year or eighteen months without feeding, they normally try to feed every five to ten days. Bedbugs that go dormant for lack of food often live longer than a year, while well-fed specimens typically live six to nine months.
Bedbugs seem to possess all of the necessary prerequisites for being capable of passing diseases from one host to another, but there have been no known cases of bed bugs passing disease from host to host. There are at least twenty-seven known pathogens (some estimates are as high as forty-one) that are capable of living inside a bed bug or on its mouthparts. Extensive testing has been done in laboratory settings that also conclude that bed bugs are unlikely to pass disease from one person to another. Therefore, bedbugs are less dangerous than some more common insects such as the flea. However, transmission of Chagas disease or hepatitis B might be possible in appropriate settings.
Other effects on health
The bedbug bite causes itching and burning, anxiety, stress and often insomnia. The salivary fluid injected by bed bugs typically causes the skin to become irritated and inflamed, although individuals can differ in their sensitivity. Anaphylactoid reactions produced by the injection of serum and other nonspecific proteins are observed and there is the possibility that the saliva of the bedbugs may cause anaphylactic shock in a small percentage of people. It is also possible that sustained feeding by bedbugs may lead to anemia. It is also important to watch for and treat any secondary bacterial infection. Systemic poisoning may occur if the bites are numerous.
Problems in elimination and remedies:
Bedbugs prefer human hosts, but resort to other warm-blooded hosts like vermin and pets if humans are not available.
Some bedbug species can live up to eighteen months without feeding at all.
A co-infestation of mice can provide an auxiliary food source to keep bedbugs established for longer periods of time. Likewise, a house cat or human guest might easily defeat a barrier by sitting on a protected bed.
Bedbugs are known for being elusive, transient, and often nocturnal making them difficult to detect.
Many of the stronger, potent insecticides (such as DDT) have been banned from the United States and replaced with weaker insecticides such as pyrethroids. Many bedbugs have grown resistant to the weaker insecticides.
The use of a fabric steamer on the infestations will kill the eggs and the bugs instantly. The bed bugs cannot handle the intense heat and are killed in a couple of seconds. Since steam will penetrate the pores of a mattress, it can reach deep into the corners of beds.
The thermal death point for the common bedbug (C. lectularius) is 45°C (113°F), and all stages of life are killed by 7 minutes of exposure to 46°C (115°F). However, to ensure that bedbugs do not survive by hiding in locations that do not quite reach the thermal death point, the US Department of Defense recommends using a temperature of at least 49°C (120°F), at 20-30% relative humidity, for at least 20 minutes.
There is uncertainty as to how long bedbugs can survive cold temperatures. Below 16.1°C (61°F), adults enter semi-hibernation and can survive longer. It is believed that storing infested items below -19°C (0°F) for at least four days will be successful. Carbon dioxide deployed in the form of “snow” may kill bedbugs by rapid freezing.
So, What Should You Do??
You need to act immediately. It doesn’t matter whose fault the problem is. It needs immediate attention because, like a leaking roof, this problem does not just go away. If it is not remedied it will inevitably affect your pocketbook. While you are debating with your tenant, the bedbugs are multiplying.
How would you sleep knowing that bugs are going to crawl on you, bite you, and suck your blood every night? Show some empathy. Your tenant may not be in a financial position to cure the problem.
The tenant may not be capable of following instructions.
Your income property is Your investment—Your business. Most tenants will see it that way, even if they did cause the problem.
Even though bedbugs are not known to pass disease from one person to another, the possibility that health issues deriving from the bites does exist.
Tenants are filing lawsuits. I’m not saying that this would “fly” as a legitimate lawsuit, but who needs the aggravation? Just go visit www.badbedbugs.com and read about the problems.
If there are multiple units in the property, most likely, the others will become infested as well.
If you have good tenants, they will most likely want to move out.
You could be left with more than one vacancy which will effect your monthly income.
You have 2 choices here. You could:
1) Do it Yourself: You (or your tenant) could purchase an over the counter product and get busy. For those of you who prefer the hands-on approach, Amazon.com has a large inventory of products to choose from.
2) Hire a professional exterminator – each infested unit will need 3 treatments but at least you know it will be effective.