Pro-active approaches to Bed Bugs


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Increasing numbers of PMPs are realizing the importance and advantages of a pro-active approach to bed bug management in multi-family housing. Dr. Rick Cooper’s groundbreaking “markrelease-recapture” study, conducted in 2014, demonstrated the extent and speed of movement of bed bugs between apartments in multi-family housing. This study confirmed what many PMP’s had suspected for years, treating just one apartment in multi-family housing is not an effective strategy, regardless of the products utilized. 

Unfortunately, housing managers have been far more reluctant to accept this, preferring to cling to a reactive approach in their flawed attempts to save money on pest control. Not only does this result in higher pest control costs over time, it also drives bed bug infestations in their properties. This approach is also detrimental to PMPs who are frequently blamed for the perceived failure to bring bed bug issues under control. Fortunately, current knowledge on bed bug behavior and movement, inspection and monitoring methods, minimal resident preparation requirements, and the availability of new products with long-term residual efficacy, provide PMPs with the opportunity to offer a more effective, proactive approach to bed bug management, while reducing the overall cost of annual pest control.

Offering a pro-active service contract requires customer education to ensure that housing managers understand the following key points:

  1. Relying on tenants to report bed bug infestations only identifies a fraction of the existing infestations in a building.
  2. Bed bugs are highly mobile between apartments, including those above, below, to the sides, and across the hallway from an infested unit.
  3. Treating one apartment in isolation cannot bring an established bed bug infestation under control when there is a constant risk of re-introduction from surrounding units.

Once these points are understood, the benefits of a more holistic pro-active approach will become clear.

An economic and effective pro-active service contract utilizing the long-term (up to 3 months) residual efficacy of Aprehend® is outlined below:

  1. Initial visual inspection of all apartments in the building (monitors and/or canine detection can also be offered).
  2. Report infestation incidence to management.
  3. Treat units with medium to high infestation levels. First, use a vacuum to remove all visible bed bugs. Then apply ‘Primary’ Aprehend barriers around the bed and living room furniture and ‘Secondary’ barriers where additional harborages are suspected ex. baseboards, outlets, etc.
  4.  In all remaining apartments (with low-level infestations and no detected infestation), apply Primary barriers around beds and seating areas only. 
  5.  Return and inspect infested apartments 30 days later. Re-treat only if live bed bugs are present.
  6. Treat all remaining apartments in the building with primary barriers every 3 months.

An initial inspection provides management with a full understanding of the infestation status and facilitates accurate costing of the contract. However, for quarterly follow-ups, simply apply Primary Aprehend barriers in all apartments. This takes less time than inspections, and is more effective, as it ensures that any bed bug introductions cannot lead to infestations between services. 

When calculating contract pricing, estimate technician time to conduct the initial inspections (approximately 10 mins per 1 bedroom apartment), application time for Aprehend® (15 mins for medium to heavy infestations, 5-10 mins for all other apartments), cost of goods (3 oz Aprehend® for pro-active and low infestations, 5-8 oz for medium to heavy infestations). Initial inspection and treatment can be done during the same visit. Annual contract cost will include quarterly applications for all apartments (10 mins per apartment, plus 3 oz Aprehend). 

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