Today, major cities around North America — Los Angeles, Toronto, San Francisco, Newark, N.J. — and worldwide all have problems. So, too, do smaller cities such as Reading Pa, as travelers bring the insects back home with them. They’re not just wreaking havoc on lives but affecting real-estate deals, too — not just renters but also buyers! Bed bugs infestations are being reported in high end clothing stores, like office buildings, banks, hospitals, and the air plane seat you just left yesterday!
National Pest Management Association, 95% of 521 pest-control companies nationwide said they’d dealt with at least one bedbug infestation in the past year.
“So what?” you say. “Bedbugs are a problem for the poor, right?” Hardly.
They’ve turned up in New York’s East Hamptons beach community and New York City’s ritzy Upper East Side. Bed Bugs are nondiscriminatory. They don’t feed on filth, You could check into a five-star hotel, you could live in a multimillion-dollar house, you could have your kids go to the finest universities, and you could still have bedbugs.
Are you worried about things that bite in the night? Fear no more: We have all you need to know about bedbugs but were too skeeved out to ask.
Know the enemy
Bedbugs are small, reddish to mahogany-colored, flat-bodied bugs nearly the size of an apple seed. They eat blood — your blood and your pet’s blood. They hide during the day and feed on their sleeping host at night, leaving behind small, roundish, dark-red fecal stains or speckles (your digested blood). Females can lay up to 500 minuscule white eggs, in batches of up to 50 at a time!
What makes bedbugs particularly maddening is that they can go dormant and go without feeding for several months — adults have been known to go without feeding for 18 months — only to reappear later when there’s a warm body to feed upon.
Bedbugs like to live where they work; research reports that more than 85% of bugs are found on or near the bed, But they also appear places here people lounge — upholstered sofas and chairs, for instance.
If you are bitten at night, you know you have bedbugs, right? Not so fast: A bedbug bite leaves a red mark that’s hard to distinguish from other bites, such as mosquito bites. And research by the University of Kentucky has shown that nearly 30% of people don’t react to the bites at all. That means people often don’t know they have an infestation until it has exploded enough to be obvious — and has spread far beyond the bed.
“They can be in virtually anything — we get them in the pages and bindings of books. We’ve found them in the head of an adjustable wrench,” Reports claim they have found them inside coffee makers and sticks of deodorant.
“The key is early detection and awareness. If you find an infestation, let’s say within a few weeks or a month of the bugs entering the apartment, you have a good chance of stopping them with relatively straightforward measures.
How do you know if an apartment you’re thinking of renting, or a home for sale, has had bedbugs?
The quick answer: It’s not easy.
“It’s actually kind of difficult if you’re inspecting a vacated dwelling” because the insect can go dormant, The insects could hide under floorboards or behind walls — places not easy to access.
“If you see evidence of speckling toward the top (of the wall) where the wall meets the ceiling or the upper corners of the room, that means you had big problems before you arrived there.With bad problems, you’ll sometimes see (speckling) around or behind electrical face plates.
Also, look for evidence of bedbugs around edges where carpets have been. Don’t assume that just because any bedbug-infested furniture is gone, the bugs are gone, too: What happens with a vacant unit is that a lot of the bugs get taken out with the furniture, but if it’s a significant problem, not all of them do.
It’s not unheard of for bedbugs to scuttle a real-estate deal. In Chicago, condo owners sued a property-management company, saying the company should have told them there was an infestation in the building before they bought their units. The condo owners won, an attorney and chairman of the department of hotel management at the William S. Harrah College of Hotel Administration at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas who speaks often about the legal aspects of bedbug infestations.
Know your rights going into any lease or deal; the law around bedbugs is changing quickly. In New York, for instance, Gov. David Paterson is expected to sign a law that would require New York City landlords to tell prospective tenants whether any units in an apartment building they are considering had been infested within the previous year. As this problem magnifies expect to see similar verbiage in the SDS, Seller Disclosure Statements in the near future
Keeping them out: Coming home
let’s say you’ve just come home from showing a home that you suspect has bed bugs?
- Strip down. As soon as possible — such as when you’re just inside the house — take off the suspect clothes and empty your clothes and bag into plastic garbage bags. Seal them.
- Dry it. “If you want to wash the stuff, that’s fine, but the heat from clothes dryer will kill them As little as 10 minutes on high heat “will kill everything.” Backpacks, shoes, sneakers — “all that stuff can go in there.” Even most “dry clean only” clothing can be put in a clothes dryer on a low to moderate setting with no harmful effects, as long as it’s dry.
- Be aware of where you sit on upholstered furniture and beds
Bill Sands Realtor/ Jerry Pelker Realtor
Sands & Company Real Estate