We were always worried about the monsters under the bed, but when the little monsters start showing up on your bed...that’s something else. If you find bed bugs in your apartment, don’t panic! While annoying and a nuisance, you can overcome them once you take action.
What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are from the genus Cimex, and are small, flat wingless insects. They are typically reddish-brown in color and feed off human and animal blood.
How to spot bed bugs?
While bed bugs are small, there are several physical, visible signs of their presence including:
- Small red bumps or welts anywhere on your body
- Rusty red stains on bed sheets or mattresses, caused by bed bugs being crushed
- Dark spots (aka bed bug poop)
- Tiny pale yellow spots that are the eggs, eggshells, and yellow skins of nymphs.
- Live bed bugs.
What do I do if I find bed bugs in my apartment?
The most important thing to do once you find any sign of bed bugs in your apartment is to take action.
Notify your landlord or property manager.
Your landlord or manager can inform the rest of the tenants, implement a preventative strategy, and work with you to resolve the bed bug problem. There is also a chance that the bed bug source isn’t your unit, but a neighbor. Some states require tenants to report infestations within a certain time frame of 24-48 hours of discovery, so it is your best option to report the problem immediately.
Look for an extermination service.
While bed bugs can be handled independently, it’s often recommended to consult the professionals to end the infestation cost-effectively and quickly.
Start cleaning up.
While the extermination process is put into place, you can start various measures to reduce the infestation by cleaning up. Washing all bedding and affected nearby fabrics in high heat will help reduce the bed bug population. Additionally, vacuum routinely and be sure to dispose of the vacuum contents outside of the home. And, the occasional squashing of any bed bugs on sight doesn’t hurt.
Invest in a mattress cover.
Buy a bed bug mattress cover protector that encases the entire mattress (not just the top). This will prevent further bed bugs from infesting your mattress.
Either stay put, or stay completely out.
It’s definitely unsettling to many to sleep in a home where you know there is an infestation. However, if you take the above steps and further precautions, sleeping in your own bed will prevent the possibility of spreading the infestation to other rooms of your home or other homes. If you want to make other sleeping arrangements, it’s recommended that any fabrics you take with you are washed in high heat to prevent any hitchhiking bed bugs. For any non washable fabrics like backpacks, suitcases and pillows, treat with an on-contact bed bug killer.
What will my landlord do if I have bed bugs?
Landlord responsibilities when it comes to pest control infestations vary from state to state and also depend on leasing agreements.
The overall consensus is that if the bed bugs make the apartment uninhabitable, and if the tenant didn’t directly introduce bed bugs into the unit, the responsibility of eradicating the pest problem is the landlord’s, who typically cover any extermination services. It is often times difficult to determine the origin of bed bug infestations once it has spread to multiple apartments. It may sometimes be as simple as a neighbor returning from a trip bringing bed bugs with them, or the couch that you bought off Craigslist came home with bed bugs.
It is best to check with local laws to determine who is responsible for pest infestations. If your locality requires tenants to handle bed bug infestations, your next best bet is to check your renter’s insurance policy. Depending on your policy, your insurance may cover alternative living situations until the infestation is resolved, as well as potentially covering any damage caused by bed bugs. This may include replacement of bedding or mattress if advised by a professional.
What can I do to prevent bed bugs?
There are several things apartment dwellers can do to prevent bed bug infestations.
- Declutter your home: Bed bugs love darkplaces to hide. By removing any unwanted clutter, you take away their hiding places.
- Change your bedding routinely: Whenever you change your sheets, check your mattress for any suspicious stains, droppings, or pests.
- Investigate bedding in hotels: When you travel, be sure to check the bedding and mattress before turning in for the night. When you return, wash all of your clothing immediately. If possible, keep any luggage outside of the home and spray with a natural bed bug spray to ward off any hitchhiking bed bugs.
- Invest in a natural bed bug spray: Using plant-based bed bug sprays can naturally repel bed bugs. By using a spray like EXO that is plant-based, there is no known resistance and plant oils can be effective against chemically-resistant species.