Using a Home Inspection Checklist to Monitor for signs of Bed Bugs

For any apartment manager worried about bed bugs, a home inspection checklist is essential. The idea of a bed bug infestation can be a living nightmare, and the worst part of it all is not the extermination costs but the possibility of the infestation spreading to the rest of the building, driving tenants away and creating a bad reputation for the apartment building itself.

According to Sniff K9s, it can cost tens of thousands to eliminate a full-blown infestation in a large building. Of course, this amount decreases dramatically if bed bugs are detected early on; full-scale infestations are very difficult to eliminate and can easily spread to nearby apartments, making them more difficult to contain and eradicate. Educating your tenants with an inspection checklist can increase the chances of detecting any signs of bed bugs before the infestation spreads.

Even an empty apartment can house bed bugs brought in by previous tenants or transferred via piping and electrical sockets from neighboring apartments. An empty place still has plenty of hiding spaces for bed bugs to crawl into. Even if there’s furniture, bed bugs don’t necessarily have to reside in it. They can be under baseboards, between openings in wooden floorboards, under loose wallpaper, under windowsills, in bookshelves (or any other wooden structure), even inside electrical sockets. They fit into pretty much any space that is dark and small. Their size ranges anywhere from 1 millimeter to a 1/4 of an inch, and they are about as flat as a credit card.

Due to their tiny size, bed bugs are very hard to spot if you’re not meticulously looking for them and trying to lure them out. If you’re searching in the locations listed above (and any other small opening that seems fit for bed bugs) use a magnifying glass. To facilitate the inspection, you can use a blow dryer or any other high-heat device and aim it at any small openings to see if any bed bugs come out, since bed bugs hate high heat.

Swiping a credit card under a baseboard and slowly going over it with a blow dryer is one way to check for live bed bugs. Other methods of detection include checking for signs of shed skins and bed bug droppings, which look like small dark pellets. Although bed bugs shed and leave droppings only when they feed on a host, there is always a possibility that you might find skins and droppings from the time of previous tenants (bed bugs can survive over a year without feeding on a host, so they can stick around for a while), or they may even be feeding on a host in a neighboring apartment. Bed bugs can travel up to 20 feet away from their host, so keep that range in mind when you’re going over your checklist.

Once you go through your home inspection checklist, it’s a good idea to hand over your written findings as well as any viable samples (droppings, shed skins, and live or dead bed bugs) to a professional.

Photo: Flickr

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