September 12, 2012
Bed Bugs: Everything You Wanted to Know But Were Afraid to Ask
Over the past few years, residences around the world have been afflicted by a resurgence in bed bugs. The insects make themselves at home in beds, sofas and chairs, lying in wait so they can feed on people as they sleep or rest.
Experts don’t know exactly why bed bugs are on the rise, but they speculate that it’s due to increased international and domestic travel, increased resistance to available pesticides, and a lack of public knowledge as to how to treat the insects.
Fact vs. Fiction
That lack of awareness has cultivated some common myths about bed bugs. Here are some of the main culprits – and the truth about their allegations.
- 1. Only dirty, cluttered homes get bed bugs.
Fiction. Bed bugs don’t discriminate between clean, upscale homes and dirty, rundown homes. However, they do need a place to live and hide, so the less clutter that’s available, the fewer options they’ll have.
- 2. Bed bugs can hop from the bed to the floor.
Fiction. Bed bugs can’t hop, jump or fly. They have to crawl to get from one piece of furniture to another.
- 3. Bed bugs can live for many months without feeding.
Fact. That means it often isn’t enough to simply clean sheets and treat beds, or leave the home for a few days, when an infestation occurs. Unless the entire unit is properly treated, bed bugs will likely bide their time until a food source returns.
- 4. Bed bugs can’t be seen with the naked eye.
Fiction. In fact, most people are able to spot bed bugs in their homes, if they look carefully. Young bugs are about the size of a poppy seed, while adult bugs are about the size of an apple seed.
Preventing and Managing Bed Bugs
Although bed bugs are inconvenient and can be quite costly, there are steps you can take to prevent them from entering your property, and to minimize any infestations that may occur.
- Discourage tenants from bringing in used furniture from unknown sources.
- Instruct tenants to report bed bug sightings as soon as possible.
- Promptly address reports of bed bug sightings.
- Retain professional pest control services.
Typical treatment requirements for tenants:
If treatment is necessary, you should ensure that your tenants are aware of what to expect. Prior to the treatment, you should instruct them to:
- Remove and inspect all items from the floor, and treat, launder or carefully dispose of any infested items
- Vacuum all visible bed bugs, as well as throughout the infested room (and carefully dispose of the vacuum bag outside of their living space)
- Move furniture 3 ft from the wall
For more in-depth information, Health Canada offers tips on how to treat and manage bed bugs. As well, the City of Toronto also provides valuable information on the matter, including tips on collaborating with tenants to get your property bed bug-free – and make sure it stays that way in the future.
Keeping Your Property Off the Bed Bug Registry
Tenants, just like anyone else, are free to post bed bug sightings on The Bed Bug Registry. If you find your property is listed when it shouldn’t be, refer to the dispute guidelines to have your building removed from the database.
The bottom line is that bed bugs are highly undesirable, but with the right precautions and processes in place, they don’t have to be an undue burden or cost – to you or your tenants.