PUBLISHED ON December 22nd, 2011
Do you manage multifamily housing? HUD does, and recommends the use IPM to all of its owners and managers in the face of large-scale bed bug infestations in every major city. In a notice issued August 16th, 2011, HUD detailed what it expected of its “owners and management agents (O/As)”, as well as its tenants.
HUD begins by explaining that bed bugs are on the rise, something we’ve been noticing in the Seattle/Portland area. They state that “Bed bugs are considered a pest of significant public health importance by the EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although the insects are not known to transmit disease, bites may itch and cause an allergic reaction in some people, which may lead to secondary infections. The presence of bed bugs can also cause stress or anxiety.” In older or more vulnerable populations, these effects can be greatly decrease quality of life.
HUD also reminds us that “bed bugs are not an indicator of poor sanitation”. No multifamily unit, despite cleanliness or socioeconomic standing of its residents, is immune to the current boom in bed bug populations. For this reason, HUD has determined that “The best approach to bed bug management is to prevent an infestation from occurring in the first place”.
How can you get ahead of this problem? HUD told its owners and management agents that they “are strongly recommended to develop an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan”. What does an IPM plan for bed bugs look like? Here’s a link to the EPA’s recommendations: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/bedbugs/#treat, all of which is included in our standard Bed Bug Response Plan.
HUD also informs that “Recent research indicates that “active” bed bug monitors containing attractants can be effective tools for detecting early infestations. Some licensed pest control applicators use canine detection to verify the presence of bed bugs”. Canine inspection can be a faster and therefore more cost-efficient way to detect bed bug problems, and can be less disruptive to the tenant and property manager.
HUD makes some recommendations for what to do once an infestation is found. “When an infestation is identified, the unit and surrounding units should be treated for bed bugs according to the IPM Plan… Infestations are rarely controlled in one visit. Effective treatment may require two to three visits, and possibly more”.
This is something we educate our clients on – there is no quick fix, and HUD has recognized that in its directives. HUD also states to its owners and managers that they “may also consider an increased pest control line item in the project’s operating budget…”. This highlights the new approach multifamily housing managers are taking with bed bugs – plan for them, get ahead of them, and stay ahead of them. Regularly scheduled bed bug and general pest control can help, HUD believes. This is because, as they state, “Early reporting allows the pests to be identified and treated before the infestation spreads”.
What does all of this mean to you? It means that multifamily housing managers are facing a new reality: it’s too expensive and inefficient to wait until you have a bed bug problem to get together an IPM plan. Start now, work with an experienced pest professional skilled in the different types of treatment, and when you do have a bed bug problem, it’ll be a relief to know you have someone on your side who knows what they’re doing, and that you’ve done everything you can to minimize your costs.
As always, if you have any questions you’re always welcome to call.
Thanks for reading!