New York City is crowded, filled with multi-unit housing, and bustling with tourists. For many people, these qualities just signify that New York is a major city. However, for those who know about bed bugs and how they spread, the realities of New York life indicate that it is one of the world’s largest breeding grounds for bed bugs. It should come as no surprise to those in the pest control industry that New York City is consistently ranked as one of the most bed bug-infested cities in the country.
The City of New York understands that it has a major bed bug problem, and it is trying its best to curb it. The city has released a bed bug guide that discusses how to identify, prevent, and eliminate bed bugs. The following is a summary of the main points in those three sections.
The guide notes that “newly hatched” bed bugs are “semi-transparent, light tan in color, and the size of a poppy seed,” while adult bed bugs are darker and “the size of an apple seed.” Bed bugs leave droppings, so checking for these on mattresses or areas around the bed can be a good way to detect a problem. While bed bug bites receive a lot of attention, some people don’t experience any reaction to them, and most people that do have a somewhat delayed response.
Prevention essentially involves inspecting every piece of furniture in the home, particularly near the bed area. Special focus needs to be paid to the areas in and around the mattress, extending 10-20 feet from the bed. Any cracks, crevices, torn seams, or other tiny hiding places should be checked thoroughly and, if possible, sealed with caulk. Residents should use a playing card (a NYC subway card would work) or similarly thin object to swipe bugs out of these small areas. While New York City rent prices might make it tempting to save on furniture by grabbing some items off of the street, residents are strongly advised against doing this. Additionally, any travel items should be given a once-over before being brought back into a home.
The guide suggests calling pest control professionals that are referred or vetted through some sort of interview process. These companies should provide tenants with a price quote and plan of action upon inspecting the home for the first time. While these firms need to use pesticides to be able to provide a comprehensive bed bug treatment, they shouldn’t be using bed bug bombs or foggers, which are cheap and ineffective. In addition to pest control companies’ treatments, residents can do their part by affixing bed bug mattress and box spring encasements to these areas of the bed and periodically checking on them for any rips. If there are tears in these encasements, residents should tape them up in order to maintain their effectiveness.
The guide goes into much greater detail about the identification, prevention, and elimination of bed bugs and is worth the read for anybody, not just New York City residents.