Why Are Bed Bugs So Hard to Get Rid of In Apartments and other Multi-Family Housing?

Why Are Bed Bugs So Hard to Get Rid of In Apartments and other Multi-Family Housing?

Bed bugs got their first taste of human blood about 100,000 years ago, and they’ve been hooked ever since.

There are stories of different civilizations dealing with bed bugs since the beginning of time: From the cleansing rituals of Ancient Egyptians, to the fumigation techniques of Renaissance Europe.

So why, after thousands of years, are we still so bad at getting rid of bed bugs? Well, there are 4 main reasons bed bugs are so hard to eliminate.


1. Most Residents Don’t Know They Have Bed Bugs Until It’s Too Late

The average person doesn’t realize they have bed bugs until 4-5 weeks after they’ve shown up

Bed bugs are busy creatures. And during those 4-5 weeks they’re moving from room to room, laying eggs whenever and wherever they can. Bed bugs can lay between 1-5 eggs per day, and travel up to a 1000 feet per week. 

This is why early detection is necessary for dealing with infestations. If you’re waiting for residents to start reporting the red bumps, you’re giving the bed bugs a 4-5 week head start! Plus, many tenants don’t report bed bugs because they feel embarrassed.


2. Today’s Bed Bugs are Stronger Than Ever

Did you know that by the 1940’s bed bugs had almost been wiped off the face of the planet?

In the 1930’s International travel was happening faster and more frequently than ever. Plus, we were on the heels of the largest war the world had ever seen. It’s not really a surprise that bed bugs were spreading at historic rates. A poll from the 30’s suggested that 1 in every 3 American homes dealt with bed bugs in that decade. 

But in 1939, a miracle chemical by the name of DDT was developed. The drug was incredibly effective at treating bed bugs. By 1945 DDT was in mass-production, and bed bugs were thought to be a thing of the past.

So how is that in 2022 we are seeing an explosion of cases? Well, there are two main reasons:

  1. It turns out DDT wasn’t the safest chemical. There’s a reason it was so good at killing bed bugs. DDT is so toxic that it’s also harmful to humans and pets, and was believed to have caused birth defects. DDT was banned in the US in 1972. More recently, it’s been banned worldwide since 2004.
  • Today’s Bed Bugs are DDT-resistant. Overuse of the chemical led to a new breed of bed bugs. They could could survive DDT treatment, becoming a new, super-hard-to-kill pest. It’s like something out of a science fiction movie!

Every year bed bugs are becoming more and more resistant to different pesticides, making them increasingly difficult to control. 


3. Over-the-Counter Treatments Can Make Things Worse

It’s normal for people to feel embarrassed about getting bed bugs. Despite the fact that bed bugs infest in both clean and dirty places equally, there’s still a stigma that getting bed bugs means a home is “unclean.”

This is why some residents are hesitant to report an infestation to their landlord. Many opt for over-the-counter treatments to try and fix the problem themselves.

Unfortunately, these treatments usually make things worse. These aren’t top of the line chemicals, so instead of actually killing the bed bugs, they usually just irritate them. This causes bed bugs to retreat to hard to reach places.

It also delays the start of the treatment. Instead of letting a professional start the treatment process ASAP, you’re simply letting the bed bugs lay more eggs and dig themselves deeper into the crevices.


4. Bed Bugs Don’t Have to Eat That Often

There’s a lot of parents out there who say that if it wasn’t for the fact that they had to eat 3 times a day, they wouldn’t even know their teenagers were home.

Well, bed bugs aren’t too different. Except they only need to eat about once a month!

Most other bugs need to eat more often than that, so you’ll see them scurrying around the house. But because bed bugs can lay dormant for so long, people often think that they’re gone when they really aren’t. 

Many infestations start with a single bed bug. So, if even a single bug survives the pesticide and lies dormant for a few weeks, it’s enough to start the entire infestation process all over again. 

Truth is, once a single unit has been infested, the chances of reinfestation are high. In fact, around 30% of treated units are re-infested within six months. Sadly, once they’ve settled in, these blood-sucking hitchhikers can be tough to get out of your building for good.


How to Keep Bed Bugs Out of Your Apartment for Good

Once bed bugs have made their way into a unit, it can be hard to get rid of them for good. When trying to break the reinfestation cycle it can feel like the bed bugs are always one step ahead, and it puts the entire building at risk.

The best way to make sure bed bugs don’t come back is by taking care of the problem before the bed bugs have the chance to spread.

This means you can’t wait for residents to realize the problem themselves. You need a way to know sooner. That’s where Pest Notify can help. 

Pest Notify is a new solution that makes early bed bug detection simple and non-intrusive. All residents need to do is take a picture of their trap, email or text it to us, and we’ll send you updates about the status of all of your units.

Sign-up for our free trial today and see how Pest Notify is changing the way landlords handle pest management.