Bedbugs can cause problems for renters who tend to hoard things or who are unclean about how they maintain the apartment or rental. But when the units are left alone, the problems can be just as serious.
Although an empty apartment may seem easier to control and deal with, sometimes it’s harder to find the root cause of the problem, according to some pest control technicians. Also, vacant units that aren’t empty make it twice as difficult.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has guidelines through its “Collaborative Bed Bug Strategy” document from the Federal Bed Bug Workshop, which are bed bug protection strategies for help the industry to better control. With respect to vacant dwellings, the policy document states the following: “If a dwelling is vacant, bedbugs may behave differently (for example, becoming inactive or more active during the day) while waiting for the arrival from a new host.
So not only do pest control technicians need to know how to deal with bed bugs properly, but they also need to understand as much of the insect’s behavior as possible to know these differences when examining vacant units.
The Mallis Handbook of Pest Control chapter on bedbugs states that active monitoring devices are one of many preventative measures that PMPs can take when inspecting vacant units suspected of having bedbug activity. of bed. According to Mallis, preventative use of monitors includes the following:
• Active monitors use one or more baits, such as CO2, heat, and chemical attractants, to attract bed bugs (usually bedbugs looking for hosts). These devices can be especially useful for detecting bedbugs in unoccupied hotel rooms, vacant apartments, or units sharing a common wall with a known infestation.
Other preventative measures offered by Mallis utilize envelopes, interception devices, daily routine inspections, and intensive and specialized periodic inspections.
Jeffrey King is president of The Pest Rangers, based in Pennsylvania, which has four locations across the state and does regular bed bug work as one of its core services. According to King, vacant units pose challenges to the pest control community.
“Vacant unit inspections are always a risk, in our view,” King says. “If the unit is empty, there isn’t much left to inspect. You might look for signs if they had a heavy infestation, but a small to moderate infestation can go unnoticed in a vacant unit. We would use K-9 dogs to sweep vacant units instead of sending techs out to inspect.
Ashley Roden is Technical Manager for Sprague Pest Control, based in Tacoma, Wash., and they work primarily with commercial clients across the board.
“They have us review each unit, many are based on complaints from the tenant, and then if they complain, we check surrounding units,” says Rodent. “Every time we do inspections we check surrounding units and set traps so we can monitor and if we do any treatment we can see if it is working. We also perform many chemical treatments and some heat treatments.
“We have seen a huge increase in requests for bed bug service in apartments and some tenants are there and have waited for COVID-19 and others have been evicted (before) and left behind (the issue). With apartments, it’s not the tenant who requests services, it’s the property manager. But also, on the west coast, things are really locked down. Here, people are quite cautious, so we don’t do individual houses, but we deal with apartment buildings.
David Poplin, ACE, is CEO and President of CDS Services. He works with all types of commercial clients and understands the issues that vacant rental space can cause.
“Having an action plan to inspect all newly vacant units can help identify bed bug activity before it spreads to a new tenant,” says Poplin. “It might also be beneficial to have a random inspection for occupied units, especially those with long-term tenants.”