Case Studies

Pests We Treat Case Studies: Unexplained bites turn out to be bed bugs - Bed bug control, removal, and treatment in Colonia, NJ

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016 by Jim Regan

Challenge

I was dispatched to one of our major commercial accounts, a senior citizen housing development in Colonia, a community located in Woodbridge Township within Middlesex County. I was notified by the property manager that a resident had alerted him to a possible bed bug infestation in her unit. The tenant had complained that, over the past few days, she had found herself with unexplained bug bites. Whenever I am called to investigate a home or apartment where the occupant has complained of bug bites, there is always a likelihood of a bed bug infestation. As a bed bug specialist, I’ve learned to prepare for the worst. Often, bug bites are the first sign of a bed bug infestation. Often, the occupant does not see live bed bugs, especially during the early stages of an infestation. It takes a trained eye to find them. These bugs have an uncanny ability to find the smallest cracks and crevices in order to stay hidden during the day where they patiently waiting for their evening blood meal from their sleeping host. 

While bed bugs can be found anywhere, we often find them in high density housing where a large number of people live and sleep — places like apartments, dormitories, and nursing home facilities. With so many people coming and going, there are plenty of opportunities for someone to unknowingly bring in one of these hitchhiking bugs. It is important to treat bed bug infestations early. As their populations grow, these parasites spread to other units looking to feed on the blood of other hosts, and the radius of a localized infestation quickly expands. I am especially concerned with bed bug infestations in homes, apartments, and long-term care facilities occupied by the elderly. Those who are aged often fail to notice the subtle clues of an infestation because of diminished eyesight or physical challenges. For example, because of reduced sensitivities or diminished mental capacities. Also, many seniors are on corticosteroid medications for conditions like asthma or rheumatoid arthritis, so they are less responsive to the allergens from bed bug bites. 

Solution

Upon entering the apartment, I interviewed the tenant. She was quick to respond and this lovely lady was clearly aware of her surroundings and her recent bug problem. We went over the standard checklist to help me focus my inspection: whether she had seen live bed bugs or bed bugs signs like blood or fecal stains, where in the apartment she was bitten, and for how long she had been noticing bites. 

Based on her responses, I began my inspection. While I inspect everywhere, I pay special attention to the likely “hot spots.” Sure enough,  I found several bed bugs in the cracks and crevices of her couch — the bugs were in all life stages: egg, nymph, and adult. Bed bug inspections are an exercise in patience. The  technician must be systematic and thorough. Every crack and crevice must be inspected and no area is too small for a bed bug to hide in. I thoroughly inspected the other areas in the apartment and, fortunately, no other activity was found. As happened here, the infestation is easier to treat when I’m called in at the first sign of trouble.

Focusing on the couch and the surrounding areas, I vacuumed all of the cracks and crevasses, which I then followed by a light chemical application. I’m always concerned about a few rogue bed bugs hiding elsewhere, and for peace of mind, I performed a preventative treatment throughout the the apartment. My goal was to keep the infestation contained to this one unit until it is completely resolved. With the initial treatment done, I’m looking forward to the two-week follow-up visit. I’ll re-inspect the premises to determine the effectiveness of the first treatment and perform any additional applications as needed.  

The tenant was grateful that the infestation was quickly identified and treated. As bad as this infestation was, it would have been much worse if she had delayed contacting the property manager.