Bed bugs in apartment complexes: bed bug “lotharios” and “Nintento Trojan horses”

by nobugsonme on September 21, 2009 · 4 comments

in bed bug epidemic, bed bug treatment, bed bugs, dumpster diving, spread of bed bugs

Mark Sheperdigian has an excellent new article in Pest Management Professional about what apartment building managers need to be aware of when dealing with a bed bug infestation — the often unconsidered aspects of multi-unit dwelling life which help bed bugs to spread from unit to unit.

We’re all familiar with the problem of a single household discarding its contents (often unnecessarily) which then spread bed bugs to everyone who collects something from the pile.

However, bed bugs may spread easily in ways which are less obvious.

For example, have you also considered the potential for bed bugs being spread around a complex by a gentleman caller with multiple lady friends in the building, or by the visiting meals on wheels volunteer?

Or the way bed bugs might move around with adolescents who troop from one kid’s bedroom to another with Nintendos, game chairs, and other gear in tow? (These are what Sheperdigian cleverly dubs “Nintendo Trojan horses”).

Sheperdigian suggests apartment managers need to try to develop

programs that work to find and encompass all the networks, families and friendships that facilitate the move of bed bugs across a community.

Although I am skeptical most apartment managers won’t bother doing this — let’s face it, we hear so many won’t choose a knowledgeable professional, have adjacent units inspected, or follow-up on treatments — Sheperdigian shows us how very important these networks can be, if we really want to get rid of bed bugs in the building.

Instead of only searching adjacent units in a clover-leaf pattern, apartment managers may want PCOs to also inspect units frequented by tenants of an infested unit, or whose inhabitants are frequent visitors of an infested unit, or whose owners have the same visitors as the infested unit.

Sounds confusing, right?  All the more reason, frankly, to consider just doing a careful inspection of the entire building.

Other recommendations Shepherdgian outlines for apartment managers include

  • Telling tenants about the bed bug problem and educating them about bed bugs (rather than keeping mum about the problem);
  • Setting up assistance programs for those needing help (such as the elderly or infirm);
  • Implementing programs for discarding items which must be removed, so removals don’t spread bed bugs in the building; and
  • Reaching out to regular visitors (like that meals-on-wheels volunteer) to make sure they aren’t re-infesting units they visit.

More and more, apartment managers are talking about how to prevent and respond to bed bug outbreaks. Last week Renee brought to our attention a new draft training manual created by the Columbus Apartment Association (with the assistance of Dr. Susan Jones).

Bed bugs are difficult to treat, even for the most well-meaning and attentive building managers.  I applaud Mark Sheperdigian for outlining some of the angles which are commonly missed, and I know you’ll want to read the rest of the article here: Bed Bugs in the Apartment Department at Pest Management Professional.

1 parakeets September 22, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Great stuff here. Reminding people how bedbugs spread helps get landlords and others away from the “blame the victim” mentality we often see and makes us realize that we ALL have to work to get rid of all bedbugs or we eventually ALL could have them. No matter what kind of health plan we might put in place as a nation, freedom from the scourge of bedbugs should be part of our national health objectives for all.

2 cilecto September 22, 2009 at 8:14 pm

In the future, I see LLs weighing which groups pose highest risk and choosing to blackball them from their buildings.

3 nobugsonme September 23, 2009 at 2:36 am

Hi ‘Keets, Wise words from you as usual.

cilecto, Ugh — you scare me. But I do not doubt some will at least try and go down this road.

4 cilecto September 23, 2009 at 3:46 pm

Sorry, NoBugs: I must have had too much cynicism for breakfast. As the sun shone brighter, I realized that, at least in the USA, we will solve this problem in a brave, united and effective manner, with no ass-covering, blame-shifting or gaps…just as we’ve done for health care and elder care. I apologize for spooking you.

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