This article was first published in the Nov/Dec issue of the BC Non-Profit Housing Association newsletter
By James Nicol BSc. Quality Assurance Manager, Care Pest & Wildlife Control Ltd
Bed bugs have become a major problem around the world. We must resign ourselves to the fact that they are here to stay and no magical solution is on the horizon. With this knowledge we must further agree that a small number of bed bugs are easier to eliminate than a large number, one suite easier than ten. Even if a building is currently free of bed bugs we know that it is just a matter of time before it has them. The more suites in the building, the more people living there, the quicker that bed bugs will be introduced or re-introduced. Bed bugs can linger in many unsuspecting places, on public transit, on airplanes, on a seat in a café or in a library. Picking up these hitch hikers is not necessarily anyone’s fault.
The best way to manage bed bug infestations in a multi-residential building is to be ever vigilant. Remember it is easier to deal with an isolated bed bug introduction than to deal with a spreading bed bug invasion.
First encourage residents to report any bed bug problems or even suspicions immediately. Bites are a good indicator but not everyone reacts to bed bug bites. Other good indicators are blood spotting on sheets or pillows or seeing the bed bugs themselves.
A truly proactive approach involves regular inspections or monitoring. Typically this would involve regular quarterly inspections of all units in the building. This will uncover bed bugs that have not been reported by the residents. Some residents may be unaware or uncomfortable reporting the problem. There are a number of monitoring techniques available. There are passive traps such as glue-boards, active traps using various attractants, visual inspections, K9 scent detection or combinations of the above. Currently the K9 inspections can be an effective monitoring tool with the advantage that they not only indicate whether or not bed bugs are present but they also indicate where the bed bugs are in a suite. Regular inspections will identify infestations in their infancy before they have a chance to spread to other units. This alone will reduce treatments and the cost and inconvenience associated with them.
The best control technique for bed bugs does not involve any device or chemical but is vigilance. The probability of a successful bed bug management program increases dramatically with early detection regardless of the control techniques employed.