Our first first dispatch of the day had us heading to an apartment building for seniors in Trenton, NJ. One of the residents had contacted the property manager because of a probable bed bug infestation, and Cowleys was contacted to resolve the problem. High density living facilities like apartments, nursing homes, and college dorms are at high risk for bed bug problems because of the transient population. The more people coming and going, the more likelihood that someone is inadvertently transporting a bed bug into the facility — and once the bugs are there, they can easily start to infest other units because of all of the contact among residents in shared areas.
When we arrived, the resident was relieved to see us. She immediately led us to her bedroom where she had discovered what she believed to be several bed bugs. She was correct, so it was a good thing that we were notified that there was a potential problem.
My partner Todd and I are experienced bed bug specialists for Cowleys. We immediately noticed tell-tale signs of bed bug activity before we even removed the bed sheets. We saw noticeable blood stains (little marker-like dots) on the bed skirt between the mattress and box spring. Although bed bugs themselves can sometimes be difficult to spot, they leave a trail of activity. Most often, the activity is on or around where we sleep or rest like beds, sofas, and recliners since that is when they feed on us for their blood meals. You’ll see staining from bed bugs when they are crushed and also stains left by their droppings. Since these bugs eat nothing but blood, their digested blood droppings look like little black flecks of pepper. Unfortunately, the resident had a bed bug infestation, and from the looks of things, it was a pretty serious one.
The next step was a thorough inspection, followed by proper treatment. While Todd was inspecting the mattress and box spring, I started prepping, getting all of our “tools of the trade” ready for the job at hand. The first line of attack requires us to pull out our trusty HEPA vacuum. By thoroughly vacuuming all of the live activity as well as whatever eggs can be removed we are instantly getting rid of a bulk of the population. This is a pain-staking process where you have to vacuum every side of the furnishings, not missing any seams or crevices. The one spot you miss may be harboring a bug. Once all of the live activity is vacuumed up, we remove all of the outlet and light switch plates on the walls in order to apply a residual dust. This product stays active in the walls pretty much indefinitely. Once a bed bug comes in contact with the dust, the product will coat there waxy skin and dry them out, and they die soon thereafter. After replacing the outlet and light switch covers, we proceed to a light chemical application to all of the infested areas of the unit.
We then spoke with the resident about the proper procedures moving forward to get this infestation taken care of. With bed bugs, one treatment is not enough to resolve a bed bug problem. Although we accomplished a lot and went a long way knocking down the bed bug population during our initial visit, there are still likely live bed bugs that escaped treatment. These bugs will be drawn out for their blood meal from our exhaled breath — they are attracted to our carbon dioxide (CO2). Bed bugs must have a blood meal to continue through their life cycle. We told the resident to wait about four hours before bringing her clothing back into her bedroom. Everything can go back to where they were it was originally as long as the items are not infested.
Cowleys provides two automatic follow-up visits from any initial treatment to make sure that all bed bug activity has been eradicated, and our service comes with a 90-day warranty. We understand the anxiety and distress caused by bed bugs and we work with residents until the problem is resolved. No one should be living with these parasites. We look forward to the follow ups and are confident that this bed bug infestation will be fully resolved in the upcoming weeks and this resident will once again be able to enjoy her unit free of biting bed bugs.