Bed bugs infestations have an un-deserved stigma of being caused by the less fortunate, socioeconomically depressed individuals who live in “flop hotels” or Subsidized housing. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Bed bugs have managed to invade across all levels of society. No level of wealth has been spared from this blood feeding invader. The bed bugs presence has been felt across the spectrum, from the 5 star luxury hotels and fancy resorts to amusement parks, theaters, department stores, schools, public transportation and just about anywhere people visit, stay, reside or sleep. One thing that holds true is that no one wants to be singled out as the originator of a bed bugs infestation.
Bed bugs are very good at hiding and if you have a light infestation you will probably never see one. The first symptoms are usually are bites. Depending on the individual the bites can range from large painful itchy welts to small red dots. A large segment of the public is also immune to the bed bugs bites. Studies have shown that almost 30% of people in the world do not have an outward skin reaction when bitten by bed bugs. There are also a few other pest infestations that get confused with bed bugs. Mites can cause similar skin reactions “bites” and at times get confused with bed bugs. Mites generally are brought in by an animal that is living in the structure and require a different control process.
And while you might see signs of bed bugs, finding them is another matter. How can you be sure to get rid of all the bed bugs at your home, residence or place of business?
While most people rely on a Pest Management Professional (PMP) to provide you a visual inspection “bug hunt,” this method is only about 25-30% accurate in detecting very light infestations. Just imagine searching your house with a flashlight for a bug the size of an apple seed or smaller, what do think you would find! As you can imagine this kind of inspection could take hours and be very time consuming. So some innovative people came up with a valuable bed bug detection tool, a dog.
That’s right... Fido! Just like drug and bomb detecting dogs, dogs can be trained to find bed bugs and live bed bug eggs. How accurate are they? Studies have shown that dogs are 98.4% accurate when alerting to the presence of bed bugs. Another huge advantage is inspection time. The dog only needs a few minutes to inspect since it is working on scent instead of sight. Dogs can quickly go from space to space sniffing and often your whole home inspection will be done in just a matter of minutes. Also dogs do not alert on dead bed bugs or empty egg capsules.
Bed bug advice for multi-unit structures
If you have a problem in one unit, inspect all the surrounding units. This isn’t the time to try to save a few bucks and just inspect the unit that is complaining. I cannot tell you how many times larger infestations have been missed by just inspecting the units that are complaining. One example comes to mind with a 28 unit building on the peninsula. The management company did not want to alert or scare tenants to the presence of bed bugs in a unit or two.
Finally after 3 months of service and a grand total of 15 units treated they finally agreed to the more detailed bed bugs inspection. As it turned out a single unit was responsible for the entire infestation. A lone tenant in the middle of all the other units kept refusing us entry to his unit. When we finally got into the unit it was the worst infestation we had ever seen. I am talking 1000’s of bed bugs in a studio apartment. When dealing with multi-unit structures be PROACTIVE not REACTIVE and your bed bug program will have a higher success rate.
How to get rid of bed bugs
Liquid chemical application
If you live in a multi-unit structure there are only a few treatment options available to you. We recommend a liquid chemical application for a few reasons. If you have had a dog inspection and the location of the bed bugs is known then we can specifically target those locations. If not, we can provide a complete treatment to the living space. The products we apply also continue to provide control of bed bugs for weeks following the treatment. Prior to a liquid chemical treatment the unit has to be prepared. We provide you with a detailed preparation sheet outlining how to take care of your clothing, furniture, pets etc. Once the treatment is completed you will also be able to return to your home in 2-4 hours. We will likely have to repeat this process 1 or 2 times depending on the severity of your infestation .
Full structure fumigation
I consider this the “Gold Standard” for bed bug control. If you live in a single family home, stand-alone unattached structure this may be a viable option for you. This treatment consists of placing a large tarp over your home and injecting a gas inside. The gas will kill all bed bug and bed bug eggs inside as well as have an added benefit of killing just about any other bugs or rodents inside the home except some wood boring beetles. Unlike the liquid chemical application the fumigation has no residual. Once the tarp is removed and the gas is gone, it is gone. There are no products left inside to continue to provide control.
The fumigation process will require you to vacate your home for 4 days. I always advise people to leave as much of their personal belongs home as possible. You don’t want to take something that is infested with you! There is also preparation required prior to a fumigation. Unlike the liquid chemical application you will need to safeguard your food and any medication you have inside the structure inside specially designed fumigation bags that we provide to you.
How much does it cost to get rid of bed bugs?
Liquid chemical applications generally range in cost around $225 per room, per treatment. Also some cities like San Francisco have a Dept. of public health mandated procedure for bed bug control which requests that PMP‘s providing bed bugs services do a minimum of 3 applications.
A fumigation cost is dependent on the total volume of your home. We can get you a cost for a fumigation at NO CHARGE. The average cost of a fumigation on a single family home under 2000 sqft is between $1800-$2400.
Other control methods
There are a few other methods for providing control for bed bugs. Heat treating is an option for those looking to not use pesticide inside their home. Heat treating is extremely expensive and requires the inside of the structure to be heated to a temperature above 125 degrees to kill bed bugs and live eggs.
Other method available for bed bug control are both freezing and steaming. The freezing method uses CO2 and the application devise looks kind of like a small pressure washer wand. Steaming uses a steam generating device with a wand attachment to steam furniture, beds and other areas bed bugs can hide.
CAUTION ON “SELF HELP SOLUTIONS”
I cannot advise you strongly enough to avoid trying the “self help” bug bombs. The nature of bed bugs generally makes them impervious to these delivery devices. Bed bugs typically hide in small cracks or spaces underneath, behind or inside furniture. The ”aerosol” type bug bombs typically do not provide coverage in those locations and therefore are ineffective in control. One thing they can do is fill a room with an irritant that will either drive the bugs into another room or further entrench them where they are in your home.
How to prevent bed bugs
- If you are traveling and concerned about your location you might want to check some crowd-sourced bed bug registries such as BEDBUGREGISTRY.COM.
- Also the bed bug guide for concerned travelers should include such rules as :
- Don’t put clothing or garments in drawers or closets.
- Don’t use luggage stand.
- Don’t put luggage under bed or on bed.
- Keep your luggage in the bathroom on tile floor or on counter.
- Use soft sided luggage/duffle bags so you can wash and dry when you get home.
- If you have cloths that you did not wear please heat in dryer for 20-30minutes at a temperature above 125 degrees before returning to your closet or drawers.
- If one is super cautious you can peel back the sheets and check between the mattress and box spring for any evidence with a flashlight.
There honestly is not an effective way to screen visitors to your home or the hotel rooms you plan to visit. Bed bugs are the top reported on pest in the 21st century and odds are you either know someone who has had a problem or have had one yourself. Good news is we are here to help you, Omega Termite and Pest Control has been providing services to the entire San Francisco Bay Area for over 40 years.