[At-large Jersey City Councilwoman Willie] Flood said she disagreed with the ordinance “unless it is scientific. None of us should be voting on this.”
The Jersey Journal, September 26, 2008
I’m not sure, what do you think? It seems to me that the Councilwoman is politely saying, where does it say? Where does it say that bed bugs will spread?
Whether it’s your super or your landlord or your local council member and whether the subject is pesticide resistance or the need to inspect adjacent apartments or the fact that, yes, your bed bugs could be coming in through the bathroom, we think having a well-researched set of responses will help. (However, if you find yourself having to tell your own pest control guy what’s what, you have our sympathy and this may not be of help. Nothing may be of help. Except a new pest control guy.)
On the spread of bed bugs to adjacent apartments and floors
1. Public Health Significance of Urban Pests, World Health Organization, p. 141:
Large multi-unit buildings common to poor areas can be very hard to rid of bedbugs. Once bedbugs become established, any control effort that does not include checking the whole building at nearly the same time, along with a coordinated occupant education and treatment effort (as needed), will usually fail, because the bugs will frequently move away from any partially treated and potentially repellent active sites into adjacent rooms. Their movements are generally unencumbered, because they readily move through wall voids and along utility lines, heating ducts, elevator shafts, and laundry and mail chutes.
2. A Code of Practice for the Control of Bed Bug Infestations in Australia, Stephen L. Doggett, Institute of Clinical Pathology and Medical Research and Australian Environmental Pest Managers Association, p. 23:
In any infestation, adjoining rooms and spaces, both either side and above and below, should be inspected.
3. Richard Cooper, entomologist:
Bed bugs will readily move between units in multi-occupancy settings such as hotels, apartments, hospitals, dormitories etc. As a result, bed bug management efforts in multi-occupancy structures should that are limited to the infested unit only are often prone to failure. Often property or facility managers are reluctant to expand the bed bug management effort to other units whose occupants have not yet complained about bed bugs. By notifying other occupants of the facility there is the risk of creating alarm and panic among residents not to mention the damage that could be caused to the reputation of the facility. Notifying occupants of surrounding units is a sensitive and sometimes difficult proposition however; the reality is that failure to do so end up being very costly in the long run.
4. Guidelines for the Control and Prevention of Bed Bug Infestations in California (PDF), California Department of Public Health, p. 3:
Building owners and operators should:
6. Notify tenants adjacent (next door, above, and below the infestation) to bed bug infested properties. Such notification should specify the presence of bed bugs in adjacent properties, and the need to prepare their properties for inspection and treatment, if necessary, for bed bugs.
7. Instruct the PCO to inspect all rooms and properties adjacent to bed bug infested rooms and properties, including rooms and properties where tenants were relocated.
Our Standard bed bug notice of violation also requires that owners inspect all units in the dwelling, and they must treat all horizontally and vertically adjacent units to the infested unit(s).
6. And of course, our own interview with Clive Boase:
Regarding spread of bedbugs within buildings, I now regard this as the norm. An isolated complaint of bedbug infestation from a unit (i.e., apartment, or hotel room) within a building will often turn out be part of a cluster of infested units within that building. We would now say that when inspecting/investigating a complaint of bedbug infestation, that several units to the left and right of the complainant should automatically be inspected, if access is possible.
The dispersion routes seem to vary from building to building, depending on construction. For example, we see some evidence of dispersion from one floor to another mainly in older buildings, where the barrier between floors is not so good. In buildings constructed in recent decades, then the fire-barrier between floors appears good at preventing vertical bedbug movement. However, lateral/horizontal movement between rooms is common, especially where plumbing or other services run from room to room.
Memorably, Clive Boase also observed, in an article in Biologist (PDF) in 2004:
Local dispersion of infestations can occur through the active movement of individual bugs. In one housing block, infestations spread from room to adjoining room at a rate of about one room per seven weeks, with dispersion taking place primarily along plumbing runs.
And then there’s simply what pest control companies do in order to be effective in treating a bed bug infestation. There’s evidence that they not only inspect but also treat adjoining rooms and apartments as a matter of course. In a recent Pest Management Professional series on bed bug management, Bed Bugs: What’s Really Working, the following quotes were especially resonant (from part 2):
“We need 100-percent cooperation of building management,” affirms Scott McNeely of McNeely Pest Control, Winston-Salem, N.C. “When an apartment unit has bed bugs, we always inspect and treat all of the surrounding units. That takes good communication, with and full cooperation of, building management.”
“We’re concerned about all the reports we read regarding product efficacy and bed bug resistance,” adds Stephen Gates, director of technical services at Cook’s Pest Control in Decatur, Ala. “Because of this, we make sure we treat surrounding units of multi-family housing and hotel accounts before we treat the infested units. We don’t want to chase bed bugs from infested units into untreated ones.”
Okay, that was more like eight.