The Bedbug Epidemic

May 2019

Bugs, pests and other vermin can be found in any city.  This has been the reality since people began to live near each other first in small towns and now in large cities.

Bed Bugs

… over half the residents of infected suites were unaware of a problem

Rutgers University study

Combatting these vermin requires clean living along with certain insecticides, baits and traps.  This approach has been relatively effective at dealing with certain pests that include rodents and ants.

Bed bugs have been a growing concern over the past couple of decades with infestations increasing by 71percent from 2000 to 2005 according to the National Pest Management Association.  Major cities have invested in educational and online campaigns in response to the tens of thousands of calls received each year.

Bed bugs are oval-shaped, under 1 cm (¼ inch) in length and the colour of an apple seed.  Eggs are the size and look of half a grain of rice.

Bed bugs enter condo buildings on people and their belongings including furniture and clothing.  They hide in crevices and come out at night.  Bed bugs can be found in mattresses, furniture, electrical switch plates, picture frames and books.  Most people never see them.

Studies show more than 30 percent of people with bed bugs have no reaction to their attacks and don’t realize they have been bitten.  The remaining 70 percent experience raised welts that itch.  Many are embarrassed to acknowledge a bed bug problem.

Bed bugs spread quickly and travel between cities.  More than 90 percent of pest control contractors report treating bed bug infestations in condos and apartments according to a 2015 Bugs Without Borders survey.

Bed bugs can spread quickly in buildings without proper treatment.  They travel to neighbouring suites through shared walls and corridors.  They can reside in storage areas and laundry rooms.  While attempting to eradicate them, ineffective treatments will scatter bed bugs throughout a building.

Bed bug infestations are unrelated to cleanliness.

Bed bugs can be one of the most difficult pests to control.  Left untreated, a Rutgers University study showed that bed bugs can spread to 45 percent of suites in a high-rise building in 41 months.  This same study showed that over half the residents of infected suites were unaware of a problem.

Bed bugs have a high resistance or immunity to chemicals.  Effective treatments require the services of pest control professionals who often rely on applying extreme temperatures to where these bugs hide.  Treatments must be undertaken at least twice about 14 days apart.  Adjacent suites should be inspected and possibly treated.

In some instances bed bug dogs have been used to detect bed bugs before residents become aware of a problem.  A newer technology, carbon dioxide freezing, can be used on possessions and fabrics.  This is a solution below -41C that will kill bed bugs.

Eliminating a bed bug infestation is a community effort best coordinated by condo building management.  Delays in alerting management and self-treatments tend to worsen an infestation thus making it harder and more expensive to resolve.

Tips on Avoiding Bed Bugs

  • After returning from a trip, never unpack luggage on a bed. Place everything in sealed plastic bags and in the dryer on high heat for at least 20 minutes.  Then throw out the bags.
  • Eliminate bed bug hiding places by eliminating clutter.
  • Periodically inspect your home for signs of bed bugs – spots on linen, live bed bugs or skin shells.



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