ABC7 just aired a story in their news at 5. It was less urgent than a blood-covered intruder in Coram, Long Island, but beat out the 60-year-old mother of twins. (Mazel tov, Mrs. Birnbaum!)
Seriously, the lead-in was more exciting than the story itself about a bed bug infested complex at 1 Dayton Drive in Edison, New Jersey. A number of tenants were interviewed. When one tenant described the bed bugs as the size of small roaches, the ABC7 camera focused in on a small cockroach with the voiceover “they’re called bed bugs” (thanks, ABC, but that was a roach). But they also (later) got at least one shot of a bed bug, so we know what we’re dealing with. I was worried, for a moment. (Remember at the end of last summer, when NY1 news flashed a dust mite close-up while talking about bed bugs, around the time of the City Council Hearing? I sound like an old timer, sorry.)
One tenant showed her most recent bite scar, which didn’t look too recent. But she said they spray and then after a month the bed bugs come back. (Well, treating once a month, if that’s what’s happening, is not frequent enough.) Reporters also said the health department had to come out and check the severity of the infestation. Middlesex Management claimed tenants were not being cooperative with their efforts. Ahhhh, the blame game.
My main concern with this segment (besides the roach confusion) was that Middlesex Management were doing the treatment (which ABC called “fumigation”). (They actually showed someone from the management company spraying a unit.) Middlesex Management is the complex’s management company, and though it’s possible they have an experienced bed bug PCO on staff, I was concerned about this. Bed bugs require persistent careful treatment by experienced PCOs. I hope the Middlesex Management PCO is very experienced with this very hard-to-treat pest. If not, they might find it worthwhile to seek out a bed bug specialist.
It’s good to see bed bugs in the news. It is good to have people saying on the news that when bed bugs are really bad, you see them in the daytime. They claim to have had bed bugs for years. I really hope they get some help soon.
It’s been a big news day here at Bedbugger.com. We’re no Daily Show, but we do want to keep you informed. My goodness, Jersey is getting hit hard this week.
Update (5/23): more on this story from Home News Tribune. The upshot? If you live in the area, be warned: a lot of these folks are going to be moving soon, according to the article. The local government should realize that a badly infested complex which drives people away will lead to many more infested complexes.
Also from this article:
Township officials said Monday they had no record of complaints about any infestation at Hilltop Apartments. Officials said health inspectors would visit the complex today.
One guy said he had complained. The moral? If your building is seriously infested, get all your neighbors to call the landlord, the health dept. and the housing dept. of your city. (I know sometimes people hesitate, but if it’s this bad and everyone is thinking of moving, why not organize them to call?) If everyone does, maybe the management will get on the Vikane train. Your problem could be cleared up before you have a chance to sign a new lease. Organize, people, organize.
Update #2 (also 5/23): This article is even more interesting in terms of follow up. Health inspectors have today been investigating 118 complaints in the 24 buildings of the complex (these appear to be smaller, low-lying buildings).
Township spokesman Jerry Barca said the township hoped to work with Hilltop management to rid the complex of the bugs and educate tenants about how to protect themselves from future infestation.
“We go into this looking to work with tenants and management to make this problem go away,” Barca said. “But if the worst case scenario arises, we do have the right to prosecute. We also have the authority to make sure people have a safe place to stay.”
That’s good to know.
The management claims they’ve been fighting the problem for three years but that the bugs keep spreading. They blame tenants for bringing in used mattresses:
He said the management has been working with pest-control companies. At first, the management company hired one exterminator to get the problem under control, but one was not enough. They have now hired a second firm.
Barca said, when investigators inspected Tuesday, they “found that the management has successfully treated 69 complaints.”
Barca said township inspectors had difficulty checking individual units Tuesday because many residents were not home.
But, he added, “We are going to compel the management to take care of every unit.”
Health inspectors will be on-site everyday and will help educate tenants in different languages (dialects) on how to deal with the bug problem, Barca said.
Gulics agreed that tenants need to be educated.
He said a couple of weeks ago, management had a meeting with tenants to tell them about the bug issue and how to keep their apartments clean.
“We will continue to educate the tenants to eliminate the problem,” said Gulics.
He said in the past tenants have picked up “mattresses from the Dumpsters and these are mattress that were already infected by the bed bugs.”
He said, “We clean, and they bring the bugs back. We need a team approach” to control the bed-bug problem.
They do need a team approach. Not finger pointing, but education (including necessary translators being on-site for the sessions) and support. I am sure that in any large multi-unit infestation, some tenants are going to aggravate the problem by bringing infested items back in. They need to be provided with information from a trusted source about why this is a bad idea. Management needs to help facilitate this, and realize that the “trusted source” may have to be someone else besides management, as in this case, the health dept.
I long for widespread public education campaigns, public service ads on TV and bus shelters. But in the meantime, anyone treating their rental property needs to get creative about educating, and enlist help in doing so. Yes, tenants need to listen and cooperate. But management also needs to take drastic action sooner. Three years with bed bugs is too, too long.