What do renters worry about most when they move into a new apartment? It might not be lack of closet space or a noisy neighbor. Pest control company Orkin says its recently completed survey shows renters fear bed bugsin their new home above all else.
When asked to rate their idea of the worst pest, 39% of renters named bed bugs, a higher percentage than rodents, cockroaches, ants and flies.
Bed bugs have been in the news in recent years, mainly for showing up in posh hotels. These tiny blood suckers often hitch a ride with hotel guests and end up going home with them. They're tiny and hard to see so, if they get on your clothing or in your suitcase, you are not likely to notice.
You'll only notice later, once they have made themselves at home in your mattress. People who have been bitten usually experience itchy red welts and swelling. Bed bugs are not limited to bedrooms, but that's where they're most comfortable.
From one apartment to another
They also have no respect for property lines. Once they get a foothold in one apartment, they're likely to try out others.
"Bed bugs can reproduce quickly, so it's important that apartment residents notify property managers of any evidence that causes them to suspect bed bug activity," said Paul Rhodes, National Maintenance and Safety Instructor of the National Apartment Association (NAAEI). "Early detection is key to help prevent a much larger infestation from setting in. To help prevent their occurrence, properties can be active in removing furniture abandoned at onsite trash locations, and ensure that residents are aware of dangers associated with bringing home 'found' items."
Be careful with a second-hand sofa
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) seconds that last point. Avoiding second-hand upholstered furniture and bedding will go a long way toward keeping bed bugs out of your home environment.
EPA also advises using a protective cover that encases mattresses and box springs and eliminates many hiding spots. Purchase a good encasement that will resist tearing and check the encasements regularly for holes.
Reduce clutter in your home. Clutter doesn't attract bed bugs but it provides them with a place to hide.
If you are using a shared laundry facility, be careful you don't bring bed bugs home, along with your clean sheets. Put items directly from the dryer into plastic bags for the trip home.
If you live in an apartment building, EPA says you can try to isolate yourself by installing door sweeps on the bottom of doors to discourage movement from hallways. Seal cracks and crevices around baseboards, light sockets and other breaks in the wall, to discourage movement through wall voids.
Renters may be justified in their fear of bed bugs. Last year a California woman sued the Renaissance Marriott Hotel in Palm Springs, claiming she was bitten by bed bugs more than 400 times while sleeping at the hotel.