Sep 13, 2012 – Who Started The Bed Bug Chain?


How active are bedbugs during the day and does this painter's claim sound right? I did a heat treatment to a second floor apartment about 2 months ago. The tenants moved out a month later. I set Verifi traps in the apartment 3 weeks after I did the treatment and used double sided tape along the baseboards and bed frame legs. A few days ago the apartment manager tells me a painter, who was painting the now empty apartment, went home and his wife found 4 bed bugs in his clothes. The painter was informed the unit was treated for bed bugs before he painted. I went out and checked the traps and found nothing in the traps in the second floor apartment, however I did find bed bugs in the unit below, which has 3 people living in it. I also did a treatment to that apartment 1 week after I did the treatment for the second floor. So, I am catching bed bugs in the first floor and none on the second floor. Both have the same number of Verifi traps and were set the same day. I don't understand how a painter could get that many bed bugs on him and have them in his bed a few days later after painting a empty apartment with no signs of live bedbugs. Little off my question but I would like to mention I have used dogs in the past. One company I used alerted on 5 apartments - one never had any bed bugs and the other 4 were treated over a year prior to the dog inspection. This dog inspection was a year ago and there are still no signs of bedbugs in those apartments.


First on the dogs. This can be an extremely valuable inspection tool with properly trained dogs, but you mention some of the drawbacks to them. They are so sensitive that you may not be certain immediately if the dogs are hitting on active infestations or just the lingering scent of previous infestations. I think the proper protocol is to use the dogs to quickly find possible bugs, but then to do a very thorough visual inspection of those locations to verify whether or not the bugs are actually there. 

On the painter's problems, I believe it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly where the bugs found in his home came from. While the monitoring traps for bed bugs are really improving and increasing our ability to detect their presence, I would not consider them yet to be fool proof. The monitors may not draw bed bugs out of hiding in an empty apartment where no people are present to add to the signals the bugs alert to. Your traps in the second floor apartment that you treated could possibly be empty even though some bugs were still present and hiding there. Or, if we want to state the possibilities, that apartment being painted could well have been free and clear of bed bugs and the painter picked them up somewhere else, or even perhaps had them in his own home prior to all of this. It is really hard to pin down exactly who is "to blame". It would be important to do a very thorough inspection of that painted apartment now to see if any bugs are still hiding there. This would be important for the apartment management in particular, to ensure that apartment is free of bugs before they rent it again. 

On that note, if the unit below also had bed bugs then it suggests that this entire complex is at risk. Bed bugs move very quickly, and it has been demonstrated before how rapidly they will move from an initial infested room to many other rooms in a complex, above, below, and to the sides. Is the management of this apartment aware of this possibility and are they having you do your thorough inspection of ALL adjacent rooms and others in the complex? Bottom line is that sure, it's possible the painter did acquire the bed bugs from this vacant apartment and its possible he got them somewhere else. Bed bugs are just that flaky and inconsistent in their habits. What's needed now if for you to offer to inspect this entire complex so that the extent of the problem can be determined. Just what the painter plans to do with respect to pointing the finger remains to be seen. However, that should be considered a hazard of his profession and like PMP's and hotel house keeping staff a protocol ought to be in place for him to ensure he does not take live bed bugs into his own home at the end of the day. 

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