by: Dini M. Miller, Ph.D., Department of Entomology, Virginia Tech
Bed bug infestations have been a nightmare for apartment managers. Apartment communities have seen their pest management expenses go from $30,000 to over $100,000 in a single year. Many apartment managers have admitted to hiring and firing 3 or 4 pest management companies because none were able to get the bed bug problem under control. Some complexes have even closed or sold because they could no longer afford to treat communities that were 50-90% infested.
One of the reasons that bed bug management has failed so miserably in apartments is that control has been approached on a unit by unit basis. Managers have attempted to charge tenants for bed bug control, causing many tenants to stop reporting infestations. Management has also neglected to take a leadership role in addressing bed bug infestations, relying on the efforts of their pest management company who may be inexperienced in bed bug control but offers an inexpensive price.
It is time for a change. It is time for management associations to take charge of what is happening in their buildings. It is time to accept the fact that bed bugs are now regular member of the apartment community and their management must become part of the regular maintenance program. It is also time to hire a pest control company with documented experience in bed bug management and to develop a community action plan for bed bug management in multi-unit housing.