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Tips To Prevent And Treat Bedbugs

Bedbugs. Just the word makes me squirm. They are a major nuisance to property managers. Although bedbugs are not a “public health issue,” as they do not transmit diseases, they are undesirable and a hassle to get rid of. The odorous, bloodsucking insects are normally transmitted through luggage or clothing and can spread to other apartments through holes in the wall for electrical or plumbing. A phone call from a tenant complaining of bedbugs can become a widespread problem if not dealt with efficiently and thoroughly.

To that end, here are some tips to identity, treat, and help prevent bedbug infestation. It is important to pass this information along to tenants as well.

Identifying bedbugs is usually not difficult. The bugs are oval, flat, reddish brown and about a ¼ inch long. Typically the first signs of bedbugs are the appearance of red, itchy welts on the skins caused by bedbug bites. If a tenant complains of this issue, it is a good idea to investigate further.

To confirm bedbugs, it is always best to try and find an actual bug to compare to pictures online. This can be tricky, however. During the day bedbugs hide, and are very good at keeping out of sight. They hide almost anywhere, but often leave signs such as dark reddish-brown spots on linens and mattresses from bug fecal matter. If there are any such stains along with bites, start treating the problem immediately.

Treating Bedbugs
Cleaning and disinfecting linens and mattresses, especially in hot water (at least 140˚ Fahrenheit) can help reduce bedbugs and keep them from spreading. All clothes must also be washed at this temperature. Clothes that cannot be washed can also be put in the freezer in a plastic bag for three days. A thorough cleaning of the entire affected apartment is also recommended. These measures may not kill off the entire population of bedbugs, though.

If the problem persists or the infestation was severe to begin with, it is best to hire a pest control company. Make sure you hire a company that specializes in bedbug removal. Tenants will have to be out of their unit for 4-8 hours during treatment, so be sure to coordinate with them in advance to ensure a thorough and efficient process with the pest control company.

Preventing Bedbugs
Unfortunately, because of the ubiquity of bedbugs, it is difficult to completely prevent infestation. Since tenants can pick up bugs even on public transportation (from brushing into someone already infested, for instance), there is a degree of contingency that is unavoidable. However, there are proactive ways of reducing the risk of infestation and ways to prevent the problem from getting out of control.

As a property manager, you should develop explicit protocols for reporting bedbug problems. This includes educating tenants on identifying bedbugs and ensuring an easy way to report infestations. This helps to pinpoint bedbug problems early, before they have the chance to reproduce or spread to other units. If units are furnished, use metal bed frames when possible. In common areas, use vinyl or metal furniture instead of cloth upholstery and be sure to vacuum carpets frequently. Finally, carry out routine inspections of common areas and units to identify infestations early.


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