If you live in an apartment building, the idea of a pest infestation may be familiar to you – think cockroaches, mice, and the like. However, a bedbug infestation can turn into a nightmare. So if you suspect you have bed bugs, it is important to act quickly.
What are the signs of a bedbug infestation?
Although bed bugs can be difficult to spot on their own, bed bug bites are generally very noticeable. Bedbug bites are usually red, itchy patches or spots that appear in clusters on your body. Bed bugs often bite in straight patterns and may be mildly irritated or extremely itchy when attacking you. Bedbugs are most likely to bite exposed skin that you leave uncovered while you sleep, such as your arms and legs (if you wear shorts in bed). You may also find bed bugs on your upper body or other covered areas of your body.
Once your bedbug problem gets bad, there is a good chance you will notice physical signs of an infestation around your home. In particular, you may find small blood stains on your mattresses and box spring beds that look like tiny rust stains – especially near the corners of the bed. Bedbugs can also peel skin off, so you can see oval brown wraps in and around your bed, including the crevices of your mattress. You can find these spots in other parts of your home too, including sofas and upholstered chairs.
An infested apartment can also begin to smell over time. So if you smell a musty smell, especially around your mattress, bed bugs could be to blame.
How are bedbug infestations diagnosed and treated?
Once you suspect a bedbug problem in your home, the next step is to call a pest control company to assess the situation. Sometimes people experience allergic reactions that may be similar to bed bug bites. So it is important to consult a pest control professional to see what you are dealing with.
As soon as a pest control company sends an exterminator into your home, they’ll examine your living space for any signs of bed bugs. A trained professional will know what common hiding spots to locate and will thoroughly examine every mattress in your home, as well as your bed frames and furniture, to determine if you have a bed bug problem.
Some pest control services even use the assistance of dogs to detect bed bugs. These specially trained dogs have a unique sense of smell that can pick up on a problem that may not be as easily visible to the naked eye.
Once a bed bug problem is identified, the exterminator you are working with will suggest the most effective bed bug treatment for your home. One option is a powerful steam treatment, which can kill bedbugs due to the extremely high temperatures. Since this bed bug treatment does not contain any chemicals, it is considered safe. A newer option for treating bedbugs is a freezing application, which is also non-toxic.
At the same time, the exterminator you use to control bedbugs will generally give you advice on how to deal with items that may be infested. In general, you’ll need to vacuum every mattress in your home, as well as your carpets, furniture, and any other places where bed bugs might creep in. You will also need to wash your linens, towels, and clothes on the hottest setting on your washing machine and then set your dryer on the hottest setting to complete the decontamination process.
If you have items that you can’t safely wash and dry, or that you can’t wash and dry right away, you can put them in sealed plastic bags until you can put them through a cycle. Items that cannot be washed at all must be kept sealed for at least a month.
Whose responsibility is it to pay for bedbug treatment?
If you rent an apartment, your landlord is responsible for repairs if things break in your unit. Your landlord is also responsible for providing you with a safe, habitable home. But will your landlord pay for an exterminator to solve your bug problem?
It depends on.
Bed bugs are usually the responsibility of whoever brought them home. If you’ve traveled recently, you may have found bedbugs in your suitcase that caused the infestation in your home. Or it could be that you went to an infected movie theater and brought home bugs on your clothes.
If you’re the only person in your building with a bedbug problem, there’s a good chance the cost of the treatment is yours (and unfortunately, tenant insurance generally doesn’t cover bedbug treatment). However, if bed-basement infestation affects several tenants in your building, the financial burden of treating the problem may lie with your landlord.
Unfortunately, bed bugs can easily slide through cracks and crevices to gain access to multiple apartments within the same building. As such, it is possible that a tenant could bring it home and it would affect an entire building.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the cost of treating bed bugs can be quite reasonable if you’re not dealing with such a large space. Solving a humble problem for a single apartment can cost as little as $ 300, and while that is a sum you may not be excited about, it is not necessarily catastrophic either.
How can I prevent bed bugs?
One of the best ways to prevent bed bugs in your home is to be vigilant when you travel. When staying in hotels, put your suitcase on the shelf that is usually provided, rather than on a bed or carpeted floor. Also, check your hotel room for any signs of bed bugs – you can peel the covers off each bed and check for signs of blood stains on each mattress.
Another helpful step is to wrap your mattresses with bug-proof covers. These are tight-fitting covers that prevent these pests from entering. If you have box spring beds, you will need wrappings for them too. You can also help prevent bed bugs by vacuuming your home frequently and reducing clutter.
Bedbugs are a problem that nobody deserves. If you suspect an infestation in your home, call for help. While it is possible to treat bedbugs yourself, it is often best to bring in a professional exterminator. Bedbug problems can mimic those caused by other pests, and knowing what you’re dealing with is the first step in eliminating the problem at hand.