We often hear from Bedbuggers in Cincinnati. Pest Control Technology Online reports of a recent bed bug conference in the region, called “Bed Bug University,” with 200 attendees (50 of them pest control professionals). The attendees were encouraged to hire PCOs to deal with infestations and inspections of other units.
Entomologists including Michael Potter of the University of Kentucky helped those in attendance understand how those with bed bugs feel most violated in the part of their homes they go to to get away from life’s stresses. The lectures also included information on treatment, and what it entails (not just spraying, but also including integrated pest management):
Hickman spoke more in-depth about products used to control bed bugs. Hickman noted that bed bug treatments require a combination of non-chemical solutions (including exclusion, vacuuming, steaming and thermal eradication) as well as chemical solutions. Hickman said that today’s pesticides are not a “silver bullet,” and that each has advantages and disadvantages, which is why he recommended using a variety of pesticides.
Most interesting to me, however, was the talk by lawyer Kevin Brewer, and entomologist Susan Jones, who answered the question for landlords of whether tenants are at fault:
One of the interesting discussions that occurred during his presentation revolved around whether the tenant (to whom the source of the infestation was traced) is really at fault. After all, unlike pests such as cockroaches and ants, bed bugs spread because they are hitchhikers — not because of sanitation issues.
“The previous talks stressed that these pests are hitchhikers — they can occur in busses, in movie theaters and even in this room,” said Susan Jones, Ohio State University Entomology Professor. “All this emphasis on finding the source and this accusatory tone that this person is responsible for the infestation, I take issue with.”
Brewer responded that, “As a landlord you have a piece of property that was not infested and somehow bed bugs were brought there. Why would the landlord have to pay the expenses for eradicating those bed bugs when they did nothing wrong?”
To which Jones responded, “And the person that brought them in did something wrong?”
The inappropriateness of blaming an afflicted tenant is probably the most important thing landlords and apartment managers need to learn about bed bugs. We Bedbuggers know that many people do not appear to react to bed bugs (or perhaps are not bitten even when they have them), and this fact alone means it’s usually impossible to be sure of the source of a bed bug infestation. The person complaining may think they brought them in, and the landlord might think so too. But it often turns out that someone else had them and did not notice or did not say.
But the bottom line, when it comes to the Blame Game, is that if you blame people who report bed bugs, they might not report them–putting up with them, or self-treating–until someone else is afflicted and comes forward, the apparent “cause.” This is a dangerous situation, because in the meantime, bed bugs have spread throughout your building, causing you infinitely more money and taking more time and effort to eradicate. Not smart business, from a landlord’s perspective.
With bed bugs, it’s clear that education is a big part of the battle. Check out the article from PCTOnline.