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How Do Your Residents Get Bed Bugs?

You vetted your residents: their past rental history is great, their unit is clean, and they pay on time. Yet somehow you still got the dreaded call: “I think we have bed bugs.” 

They’re waking up with itchy red bumps, and you’re just hoping the neighboring units don’t start calling with the problem, too. 

This could get really expensive, you think.

You feel like you’ve done everything right…so then, how did your residents get bed bugs? How is it that your resident has these little blood suckers as roommates, and how can you prevent it from happening again?

Residents get bed bugs traveling

How Residents Get Bed Bugs

Just one female bed bug or egg that hitchhikes on a person or their belongings can start the vicious cycle.

Bed bugs start their travels anywhere large groups of people frequent: doctors offices, hospitals, laundromats, and many more places.

And a large chunk of bed bug issues occur because of travel. From hotel rooms to Ubers, people come in contact with bed bugs’ favorite hiding hot spots. Plus, with travel restrictions lifting all across the world, international travel is set to boom. The World Travel and Tourism council expects 2022 to be the busiest year in history, with nearly a 36% increase from 2021

So, with more people traveling around the globe, we might be in for one of the busiest bed bug seasons in history. 

4 Common Places Residents Pick Up Bed Bugs

While bed bugs aren’t 100% avoidable, understanding where they hitchhike from can help reduce the risk. 

1. Hotel Rooms

Fun fact: 5 star hotels are just as likely to have bed bugs as their less luxury 1-4 star hotels (according to the CDC). And, the cleanliness of the room has little to do with how likely it is to have an infestation.

On top of that, 68% of pest professionals claim to have dealt with infestations in hotel rooms in the past year, a number that ranks only behind private residences.

Bed bugs are common in hotel rooms for two main reasons:

1) They LOVE the accommodations, including lots of tiny hiding places. While they don’t care so much about egyption cotton 500-thread-count sheets, they do enjoy relaxing behind framed art, in mattress crevices, in drawers, and behind outlet plates.

2) The room service is impeccable! They enjoy having a new dinner meal almost every night, brought to them free of charge. I mean, who doesn’t love variety?

2. Air Travel

Imagine a cute little brownish-red seed on a black rolling suitcase, in the cargo hold of an airplane. It’s pitch-black in the belly of the plane, and the bed bug is prawling for a new meal. 

It crawls onto the suitcase next to it. Shimmy’s in the hole between the zipper and the side of the case. It lays 2-5 eggs that day, and each day after. The little bugger and its unborn children have found a new, cozy home in the case and belongings!

Next stop? Your resident’s closet in the building you manage.

 Besides the cargo hold and luggage carousel, airports in general are a hub for bed bugs. 

The sheer number of travelers from around the world in-and-out of airports makes them such a hot spot for bed bugs.

3. Ubers/ Taxis/ Public Transportation

Similar to airports, Ubers, taxis, and other forms of shared transportations can see hundreds of new people a day, many of them travelers that just picked up their luggage from the airport after staying at a hotel.

…And we know how that can turn out. 

The network of bed bug pickup sites just keeps increasing.

 

4. From the Neighbors 

Bed bugs in a single unit can turn into a building-wide infestation in just a few days. 

Bed bugs are mobile creatures and they can move up to 100 feet in a day. So, if one residential unit gets bed bugs, there’s a pretty high chance others are going to get them too. In fact, 89% of pest professionals say they dealt with bed bugs in an apartment/ shared living space in the past year. 

At even more risk? Are buildings with shared spaces like laundry facilities, a gym, a pool, and a front desk or lobby.

The longer bed bugs go unnoticed, the more likely they are to become a full-on infestation and spread to adjoining units.

This is why:

Early Detection is Key

The truth is, there’s no way to 100% prevent bed bugs from traveling to your units. Even residents who maintain perfectly clean units and inspect their luggage after travel can fall victim to infestations.

Instead, the focus should be on detecting the few bed bugs before an expensive infestation happens. 

But past solutions like bed bug dogs, scheduled inspections, and chemical dumps are intrusive, expensive, and take a ton of time and manpower (eventually link to a blog post/posts about these options).

But there’s a new solution that is simple, straightforward, and non-intrusive: Pest Notify’s Smart Trap Monitoring Service that takes minimal time, and notifies you on autopilot when a bed bug is trapped.

The best part? 

You find out before your residents start itching and complaining, and save yourself from costly infestations that can turn into multi-unit nightmares.

You can find out more about how it works here, or sign up for a free trial here.