Piecemeal inspections and treatment: no way to rid an apartment building of bed bugs

by nobugsonme on August 29, 2008 · 5 comments

in bed bug treatment, bed bugs, bed bugs and the elderly, boston, connecticut, new haven

Annie Rourke reported for News Channel 8 in New Haven on Thursday that residents of the Bella Vista complex in Elm City feel their management is not treating bed bugs aggressively enough.

New Haven (WTNH) — People living in one Elm City apartment complex say they have unwanted guests: bed bugs. And, they’re saying there’s not enough being done to get rid of them.

Residents say exterminators only do one apartment at a time and only when someone complains.

This piecemeal approach is entirely the wrong one where bed bugs are concerned. Pest Control Operators who know bed bugs tell us you need to inspect carefully, find bed bug harborages, and treat them aggressively.

All adjoining units (vertically and horizontally) — if not the entire building — must be inspected professionally by a PCO that knows bed bugs. And it’s an even better idea to treat those adjoining units even if bed bugs cannot be found.

News 8 spoke with a resident on the 7th floor of the Bella Vista:

“I had bites all over my arms, I was sitting on the sofa and one crawled on my leg and one crawled on my back,” Joanne Buccetti, of New Haven, said.

She got an inspection and treatment after she complained. Meanwhile,

Down on the 5th floor, the tenant’s place is so bad News Channel 8 was not allowed inside, even though the exterminator’s come repeatedly.

“Three times and three times they’re right back again,” Sal DeFelice, of New Haven, said.

Treating single apartments, only after residents complain about bed bugs, simply does not work. Units must be treated simultaneously, and repeat treatments must come in 10-14 days, until the problem is entirely cleared up.

You cannot wait for tenants to see bed bugs, since they can be hard to spot, and you can’t rely on reports of bed bug bites, since many people do not react to them. By the time the tenants realize they still have bed bugs, the number of bed bugs can have increased greatly. If treatment occurs every 10-14 days, you have a chance to nip hatching nymphs and other survivors in the bud.

Apartment building managers simply need to become educated about bed bugs. And pest control operators need to insist that proper protocols be used (including — at the bare minimum — inspections of all adjoining units before treatment begins).

Many PCOs who value their reputations already do insist on this, because the piecemeal treatment plan simply does not work to rid a building of bed bugs.

And many reputable PCOs will recommend even more is done. In a building like this, where tenants have been discarding infested furniture, searching horizontally and vertically adjacent units isn’t enough: you really need to have a pro search the entire building.

Why? Because some of that bedbug-infested refuse has no doubt been judged to look “just fine” and has been carried back from the curb or dumpster into other units as yet not known to be infested. It’s a pattern so common in multi-unit buildings that if I were a betting woman, I’d put money on the fact it was happening in the Bella Vista.

But don’t take my word for it: so would the Boston Inspectional Services Division. When they hand out a bed bug violation, they require landlords to inspect the entire building, and to treat all vertically and horizontally adjacent units; as their website states:

Our Standard bed bug notice of violation also requires that owners inspect all units in the dwelling, and they must treat all horizontally and vertically adjacent units to the infested unit(s).

That’s how you start to stop the spread of bed bugs in a multi-unit dwelling. That’s the start. Follow-up inspections and treatments will also be needed.

This is what a building like the Bella Vista needs: an aggressive bed bug treatment protocol. (That and education for tenants about how to avoid spreading the problem further.)

The Bella Vista is primarily a senior citizens’ building; how many of us want to think of our elderly relatives, or ourselves, with regular bed bug bites and no relief in sight?

You can read the full article from News 8 here.

1 Dave Blalock August 29, 2008 at 5:07 pm

This is exactly what it took to clear out our building. The landlord had everyone pitch in $200 and they brought in a truckload of kits.

Each unit had to get checked by the maintenence guys and they sealed up cracks and stuff. They also had us flip everything up to look under in the cracks of furnature. Then after they were done we got our kit. It was dead bed bugs brand.

The kit had a book with pictures and it was easy to see where to look and spray. It had a steamer in it and some spray and the dust stuff. My kids got into it. I think everybodty just felt better not having to worry so much about getting bitten at night.

The problem before was just what the article said. If you don’t do everybody, you are not doing anything. They also made a rule now we can’t bring in furnature unless maintenence checks it first.

Dave B.

2 Lauren August 29, 2008 at 9:27 pm


Interesting rule regarding the furniture in your building. The building next door employed this piecemeal technique last year. I blame our problem on their inability to solve theirs.

3 nobugsonme August 30, 2008 at 8:18 pm


Thanks for sharing your story! The furniture rule is a smart one, as long as maintenance are fully apprised of how well bed bugs can hide inside furniture.

I’m a bit troubled, though, that it sounds like your homes were not professionally treated for bed bugs. I think tenants need to be educated about bed bugs, and how to prep for and support treatment.

But I also think professionals should be applying pesticides and dusts, and steaming if possible.

4 Andy January 28, 2010 at 1:48 pm

I am a Superintendent, and you can fight the bed bugs and win…
Tenants need to be educated about preparation for treatment…, plus preventative measures to be followed so your not re-infesting your home again!
– Do not pick furniture off the curb and bring it home….. if it looks good and on the curb, it’s there for a reason….Bugs!!!!
This is the number 1 reason people get bed bugs,, I see it all the time….
Some people just don’t get it! And I don’t think they care……
From Andy… in Hamilton, On.

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