Report "pest" problems immediately

This summer has seen more than its usual share of insect and rodent invasions in buildings throughout the region. KRF exterminates regularly, on the second Tuesday of every month, to help keep possible problems in check. However, we also respond immediately to alerts by tenants that they detect the presence of these pests in their apartments. It's helpful if you report any issues like this as soon as they occur because:

  1. The longer you wait, the more entrenched the little buggers become and the more difficult it is to get rid of them.
  2. Even under the best circumstances, extermination is not like a magic wand that is waved to make the problem disappear instantly.

Also, be aware of the importance of not leaving food or garbage out in the open. Even things like boxes or bags containing edibles can attract insects or mice if they are not sealed properly. A precaution such as enclosing such packages in plastic bags or in plastic storage containers with tight-fitting lids can be a big help.

The article below, from the Press of Atlantic City is about bedbugs; however, it illustrates how difficult it can be in general to get rid of these unwanted guests.

Bed bug eradication continues in Atlantic City public housing
By EMILY PREVITI, Press of Atlantic City, August 18, 2009

ATLANTIC CITY - A bed bug eradication program heralded by officials as proactive continued Tuesday at four city public housing properties, where residents complained the four-month lapse between detection and extermination was too long.

Extermination started in late July, according to Jelani Garrett, acting director of the Atlantic City Housing Authority.

During a sweep at the end of March, Action Pest Control detected bed bugs in about one-third of more than 800 units among Altman Terrace, Inlet Tower, Shore Park Hi-Rise and Charles P. Jeffries Tower, according to Michael Russell, vice president of marketing for Action.

The bed bug infestation levels were quite bad, and nobody wants to wait, but it takes a few days just to get a trained dog out to sniff for the bugs, let alone take care of pest control, Russell said.

"We were impressed by speed with which they moved. Amongst all other groups we've dealt with, (the authority) has been among the most pro-active," Russell said

Shore Park resident Conchetta Caputo, 49, said building managers should have told residents upon confirming the presence of the pests and that eradication should have happened faster. In the interim, she suffered constant biting from bed bugs that she initially thought were mosquitoes that sneaked in the window in her living room, which lacks air conditioning.

Garrett attributed the delay to soliciting quotes from companies after Action conducted its initial sweep in late March and then finding the money to pay for the work.

Despite the 50 to 75 percent discount Russell said Action gave the city to secure the contract, Garrett said the authority spent between $150 and $250 to treat each unit.

"Maybe the perception from residents is that we just sat here or dragged our feet, but that's not the case," he said. "This is the first time we've dealt with bed bugs on a a mass scale. ... Early in the year, there was a problem in the (Inlet) towers, so we decided to be proactive and go through all of the units in all of the buildings."

Garrett also admitted officials kept the information from residents to avoid sparking panic , but said the current round of extermination marks the beginning of regular checks and, if needed, treatments. The authority has not formally adopted a policy establishing that procedure, but doing so would be "a good idea," Garrett said.

The authority also has asked building managers to enforce its policy requiring incoming furniture to have a receipt that either proves it's new or has been treated, he said.

"If we do that, it should never get to the point (beyond) having one or two apartments, it should never get to point where we have a hundred or 200 apartments again," Garrett said.

Action exterminators already have finished treatments - which take between 90 minutes and two hours per unit - at Inlet and Jeffries towers. They expect to finish Altman and Shore Park by the end of the month. Workers will return 10 days after initial applications and treat units again if they detect bed bugs. The company guarantees exterminations will last for 90 days, meaning it will treat units again for free if the bugs are detected during that time, Russell said.

The authority will bring back Action to check for bed bugs again in March, Garrett said.

How it works Exterminators employ dogs that have undergone between 500 and 800 hours of training to sniff for bed bugs.

Before workers return to treat infested units, residents vacuum and collect clothes and other items, bag them with a flea collar and running them through a dryer to kill any bugs that might have attached.

Once the unit has been prepped and vacated, exterminators treat the area with steam 100 degrees or hotter and then apply chemicals to all cracks and crevices: moldings, furniture, walls, wall fixtures, the ceiling, carpets, closets and shelves. The process takes as long as two hours.

Workers return 10 days later to check for more bugs because false negatives occur in about two-thirds of checks. If they detect the pests, they apply another steam treatment .

Carbon dioxide attracts bed bugs, so if one resident brings them in and then leaves the apartment empty for a while, the bugs will detect higher levels of carbon dioxide via outlets or vents and spread into occupied apartments where tenants are exhaling the gas.

The bugs also scatter after sexual reproduction, which is so painful for female bugs that they flee after mating.

"It has nothing to do with filth," said Michael Russell of Action Pest Control.

What's nextOwners of multi-unit dwellings might soon face a tighter timeline for exterminating bed bugs. The state Assembly approved a bill in February that would require landlords to start the extermination process within 10 days of detection. Another bill would require annual inspections by the state Department of Community Affairs.

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