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Bed Bug Information Part 5

Written by Paul J. Bello, author of The Bed Bug Combat Manual

This list of practical and useful things to know about bed bugs was written specifically with the many bed bug victims, hospitality professionals, property management professionals and pest management professionals in mind. Please note that these bits of information were gleaned from years of first hand field experience in dealing with bed bugs and working with industry colleagues across the country. They are presented to you the reader in an effort to assist you with your current bed bug concerns.

101. It may not be necessary to simply discard mattresses and box springs indiscriminately just because of the presence of bed bugs. Mattresses and box springs in otherwise good condition may be suitably vacuumed, steam cleaned or treated for bed bugs and further protected by suitable encasements produced for this purpose. Use high quality mattress encasements or covers such as those by produced by Mattress Safe to seal bed bugs in and take away the multiple hiding places on your mattress and box spring.

102. What sort of places have you seen bed bug problems occur?  The list of places that the pest management industry has been called in to handle bed bug problems is long and disconcerting. Bed bugs can be anywhere that man is and they have been so, let's leave it at that as we don't wish to cause unnecessarily alarm to anyone.

103. In hotels, why is the head board area a prime spot to find bed bugs?  Bed bugs prefer to hide in undisturbed areas. In a hotel, the maid changes the sheets daily or at least regularly. As such, the mattress becomes less of a desirable hiding place for bed bugs. The head board is close by and seldom moved or disturbed. However, with bed bugs, we are dealing with live animals and once again, you're mileage may vary.

Bed Bug Litigations and Lawsuits:
104. What about bed bug lawsuits? Currently we are seeing bed bug litigations increasing along with the bed bug problem. The Mathias case is a published and well documented case that occurred years ago, you can Google it. In this case a hotel was ordered to pay a significant sum in punitive damages by the court. This huge sum was partly due to the fact that there was an ongoing bed bug problem, the property management knew it, the property management took inadequate actions to address the bed bug problem and management had the front desk staff tell guests that the bed bugs were ticks. If a property is not going to take suitable actions to adequately address a bed bug problem or attempt to hide or misrepresent their bed bug problem to the consuming public they are making poor choices and it will be more difficult to successfully defend such a situation.

105. At the time of this writing I am aware of with several bed bug litigations with additional cases on the horizon.

106. Bed bug litigations are clearly on the rise. There is one firm that is reportedly dealing with about forty five cases.

107. Anyone following or interested in the bed bug situation is aware that bed bug related litigations have been in the news. Recently a case involving a celebrity and former SNL cast member was in the news. Celebrity involvement generally brings added media attention and this case was no exception. You can Google it.

108. As bed bug victims, plaintiffs are making claims against landlords, hotels, property management companies, employers, summer camps, furniture rental companies, mattress stores, other entities and pest management firms.

109. It is now possible that a pest management firm that provides pest management service at a hotel may be sued by a guest who stayed at that hotel and was bitten by bed bugs.

110. Plaintiff attorneys are seeking compensation for damages and injury including but not limited to: mental anguish, mental duress, legal fees, medical expenses, plastic surgery, psychological counseling, bed bug remediation fees, cost of replacement contents, moving expenses and many other such damages including lack of consortium.

111. Bed bug plaintiff attorneys are analogizing bed bug cases to œneedle stick type cases where victims are concerned over blood borne diseases such as HIV and others.

112. It is wise to exclude bed bugs from your normal pest control service agreements or contracts and have a separate service agreement or contract that covers bed bug services.

113. While some attorneys may advise that having well written bed bug service agreements or contracts is the best protection from lawsuits, practically speaking, doing good work and taking care of the customers will likely serve you much better in the long run if bed bug litigations are a concern.

Bed Bug Inspection & Detection:
114. How can I tell I have bed bugs? Bed bugs are difficult to detect in the early stages. In my observation and experience, it's rare that a person who unknowingly brings bed bugs home from a trip will discover that she/he did so until they begin to notice that they are bitten and the problem is already established in their own home. And, this is equally so for hospitality and multi-family locations as well.

115. Based on experience, folks are more likely to notice the œtell tale signs of bed bugs rather than see the actual live bed bugs themselves and this is especially so in the early stages of an infestation.

116. What are the tell tale signs of bed bugs?  While live bed bugs may be difficult to find, the leave behind tell tale signs of bed bugs are much easier to see. These tell tale signs include fecal stains, shed skins, eggs and carcasses of dead bed bugs.

117. Generally speaking, more bed bugs are found toward the head of the bed than toward the foot of the bed.

118. Until you have not seen a bed bug or have not experienced bites for several weeks, some practitioners say as many as eight weeks, it may be wise to assume you still have bed bugs and act accordingly. 

119. There are various methodologies that may be used to assist in determining the presence or absence of bed bugs including the use of effective bed bug monitors, traps and canine scent detection.

120. How can I confirm that a room, apartment or home no longer has bed bugs? Research conducted at the University of Florida indicates that bed bug detecting canines are about 98% to 99% accurate and some clients rely on canine scent detection inspections to help determine if rooms are bed bug free. There are œhigh tech electronic bed bug traps that may be utilized as well. However, you can also build an effective bed bug trap that utilizes carbon dioxide (dry ice ) for under ten bucks too. Search the article œHow to Build Bed Bug Trap For Under Ten Bucks and other such articles. Such traps use dry ice/carbon dioxide to attract bed bugs. Heat based traps have also demonstrated an ability to draw bed bugs. However, we must also consider that these traps may only be attracting those bed bugs that are seeking a meal.

121. An effective bed bug trap can be built for less ten bucks using a two gallon drink cooler, a large plastic dog dish, masking tape and dry ice.

122. Bed bugs can not climb smooth surfaces such as clean glass or smooth plastic. Use this to your advantage and at least isolate your bed and furniture from bed bugs by using products such as the Insect Interceptor Climbup or glass jars that prevent bed bugs from being able to climb up your bed or furniture to bite you as you sleep. There are also other bed bug blocking type devices that are now commercially available. These devices place a non-climbable surface between the bed bug and the bed or furniture. The may not capture the bed bugs as the Climbup does however.

123. While live immature and adult bed bugs may be difficult to find, look for the "signs of bed bugs" including: fecal stains, eggs, shed skins and bed bug carcasses.

124. Do bed bug traps work?  There are new bed bug traps being introduced to the pest management professional market and my suspicion is that such traps will soon be marketed to the general public. Those traps that emit certain bed bug attractants including heat, carbon dioxide, octanol and other materials have demonstrated high attractiveness to bed bugs. Simple trap designs, such as the Climb Up Interceptor unit by McNight, that rely on the bed bugs inability to climb smooth surfaces have also demonstrated effectiveness and are economical. Researchers have recently published data indicating that both heat and carbon dioxide may attract bed bugs in a relatively equivalent manner. And, there have been a few articles published on how to build your own bed bug traps that you can find online.

125. While a bed bug will consume many times its body weight when taking a blood meal, the much of this added weight is expelled as liquid fecal matter.

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