Case Studies

Pests We Treat Case Studies: Bed bugs slip into Brielle home

Friday, August 4th, 2017 by Jim Regan


I was dispatched to a beautiful home in Brielle today after the homeowner had called Cowleys concerned about a potential bed bug issue. At the outset, this particular call highlighted that bed bug infestations can happen to anyone. Bed bug infestations have absolutely nothing to do with sanitation issues, and they can and do arise in the nicest of homes. Bed bug infestations are nothing to be embarrassed about. You were just unfortunate to have inadvertently brought a hitchhiking bed bug into your home — and, in New Jersey, with our close living and high population density, all of us live with the risk of an infestation. But if you have a bed bug infestation, it is still highly upsetting. Here, when the homeowner greeted me at the door, she was in a state of panic. Her teenage son was getting insect bites in the middle of the night. Fortunately, she was aware enough to realize that bed bugs were a top suspect, and she contacted Cowleys at the first sign of trouble. Since bed bugs are external parasites that feed exclusively off blood, there are few insects that bite with such clockwork regularity at night. I asked her to lead the way to the bedroom in question.

The bedroom was somewhat cluttered with clothes and miscellaneous items strewn about — nothing unusual for a teenager’s bedroom. While bed bugs can be found anywhere, especially in any upholstered furniture, mattresses are a prime location because these bugs don’t like to venture far from their food source (us!). The sheets and blankets were already off the bed and in the washing machine. I carefully started to inspect the mattress. The key with bed bug inspections is attention to the smallest details, and not overlooking anything. A good bed bug technician goes beyond our his own perception and continues to check and re-check, treating each re-inspection as though he was looking for the first time. It is the only way to make sure that these bugs are gone for good once the treatments are completed. We understand that for a homeowner, the only thing worse than a bed bug infestation is dealing with an unresolved infestation after treatment. These are stealth insects and after dealing with hundreds of these infestations, you start to have a sixth sense of where the little buggers are hiding.

As I lifted the mattress, I found one lone bed bug nestled in the mattress seam. These bugs hide in the smallest of nooks and crannies. With this particular bed bug, his reign of terror was about to come to an end. I grabbed a tissue, and with my vice-like death grip, manually squeezed this bug until it nothing was left, but a spot of blood. Continuing my inspection, I examined the wooden planks that hold the box spring up off the bed frame, and found bed bug fecal stains by the screw holes. Bed bugs love nesting in small crevices of screws heads and in any of the tight cracks that the bed frame provides. After a thorough inspection, I found one more live bed bug. Fortunately, based on this initial inspection to determine if there was a bed bug problem, the homeowner had contacted us at the first sign of trouble. The infestation level appeared to be low and localized. The earlier we are contacted, the less time the infestation has to become more entrenched in the home, and the easier to treat. 


Of course, to make sure a bed bed infestation is permanently resolved, you have to still treat a home thoroughly, no matter whether you find one bed bug or one hundred. With bed bugs, if one is found, there is always the risk of more. I assured the homeowner that we would deal with this problem so that this low-level infestation would not have a chance to turn into a major one. While the teenager’s bedroom was the only known location, and hopefully the only one, we assured the homeowner that we would carefully inspect the other rooms throughout the home. After all, bed bugs could have been transported elsewhere. As long as people are freely moving around the home, bed bugs can easily jump on board and relocate. The Cowleys bed bug technicians are proud of their overwhelming success rate in resolving these infestations quickly and definitively. And we do it by consistently following a thorough treatment protocol that works. When it comes to bed bugs, you can’t cut corners. We do it right so when we say we are done, we mean it. It is the rare situation when we need to be called back to a home.

I scheduled the treatment with the homeowner. It was a good feeling to finally see her at ease as I was leaving. Bed Bugs are a serious matter, but I always explain to homeowners that it is not the end of the world. These infestations are easily resolvable as long as you hire an experienced pest control team who knows what they are doing.

What can the homeowner expect when we return? Initial treatment starts with a thorough re-inspection of all the rooms, including those rooms not thought to have any problems. While one technician is inspecting, the other tech painstakingly uses a HEPA vacuum to remove all live bedbugs from those rooms with confirmed sightings. After the rooms and contents have been thoroughly vacuumed, we then use a commercial grade steamer to clear out all cracks and crevices of common hiding areas, focusing on bedroom and living room furniture where people sleep and rest. Mattress and box springs encasements are installed on the beds, bed leg monitors are then placed where applicable, and a light chemical application is given to these areas. In the two-week followup, we thoroughly re-inspect, and apply additional chemical applications to areas of concern. Two to three weeks later, in our final inspection, we make sure the structure is completely free of bed bugs, again applying a light chemical application to any areas of concern. After this visit, our 90-day “no bite no sight” warranty goes into effect.

Customers who elect heat treatment have less preparatory work to do before our visit. For our pretreatment, we spray all baseboards and remove all electrical outlet plate covers and apply a light residual dust inside them. A day or so later, industrial heaters and fans are brought in, raising room temperatures to a level that is proven to kill all life cycles and eggs. The room is kept at this bed bug-lethal temperature, a little more than 120 degrees F, for several hours to ensure that all bugs and their eggs will perish. Later, during the final post-treatment, we apply an additional application to baseboards and bed frames, install mattress encasements, and conduct a final inspect of all rooms for any bed bug activity. We strive to make sure our treatment plan definitively resolves any bed bug infestation the first time around.