How Do Bed Bugs Move From Apartment To Apartment

How to Move Without Bringing Bed Bugs With You

Moving is stressful enough already. Dealing with moving companies, boxing up everything you own, and figuring out how you’re going to fit your grandmother’s armoire into a Prius is all more than enough to induce a migraine or two. You shouldn’t have to worry about bringing bed bugs with you while you’re moving.

Unfortunately, if you have bed bugs in your current residence (whether or not you even know that they’re there), there’s a good chance that they will follow your family to their next nesting ground. To top it off, addendums in the fine print pinning bed bug extermination costs on the tenant is an increasingly popular tactic among landlords.

Whether or not you’ve been waking up to bed bug bites, it would be smart to take a few simple precautions to insure that your new home isn’t exposed to an infestation. Here are a few things you can do to make the big move without bringing bed bugs along for a ride:

Launder your clothes, bedding, and pillows.

Before you pack away the clothes in your closet, throw them in the washer and dryer. Whether they’ve been worn recently or not, clothing is a very common hiding place for bed bugs. They’re easy to treat; the high heat setting on any dryer will kill bed bugs and their eggs in a short cycle. Do the same for your beds’ sheets, covers, pillowcases, and pillows. Just make sure to check the labels on each item so nothing gets damaged.

Use a portable bed bug heater.

Since your shoes and books won’t make it out of the dryer in the best shape, you’ll need another treatment method for them. Portable bed bug heaters, like the new ZappBug Oven, are perfect for heat-treating your belongings. A ZappBug can safely heat up your shoes, books, luggage, chairs, rugs, papers, bedding and more. It can be set up in minutes, and starts heating with a push of a button; within six hours, any bed bugs or eggs inside will be toast.

Use new packing material and boxes.

Asking neighbors, family members, and local stores for their empty boxes has always been a smart way to move on a budget. However, this does carry a risk of inviting bed bugs to join you on the ride to your new home. To avoid this, consider purchasing new, sealed boxes and packing materials. You can find everything you need at your local post office, office supply store, or business shipping center. Don’t open the packages until you’re ready to start packing, to prevent bed bugs from hiding in them.

Don’t buy used furniture.

In the same vein of avoiding used boxes and packing peanuts, you should definitely steer clear of used furniture. Couches and mattresses on the street are one of the most common ways that bed bug infestations spread. The previous owners may or may not have known that they even had bed bugs, but either way it’s simply not worth the risk. If you do come across a pre-owned sofa or loveseat that you can’t resist, treat it with a vacuum and steamer as soon as you bring it home – when done properly, this will kill any bed bugs or eggs hiding inside the upholstery.

Do you have any advice for staying bed bug-free on the move? Don’t keep it to yourself; throw us a tip in the comments or on our Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ page.

How to Move Without Bringing Bed Bugs With You

Moving is stressful enough already. Dealing with moving companies, boxing up everything you own, and figuring out how you’re going to fit your grandmother’s armoire into a Prius is all more than enough to induce a migraine or two. You shouldn’t have to worry about bringing bed bugs with you while you’re moving.

Unfortunately, if you have bed bugs in your current residence (whether or not you even know that they’re there), there’s a good chance that they will follow your family to their next nesting ground. To top it off, addendums in the fine print pinning bed bug extermination costs on the tenant is an increasingly popular tactic among landlords.

Whether or not you’ve been waking up to bed bug bites, it would be smart to take a few simple precautions to insure that your new home isn’t exposed to an infestation. Here are a few things you can do to make the big move without bringing bed bugs along for a ride:

Launder your clothes, bedding, and pillows.

Before you pack away the clothes in your closet, throw them in the washer and dryer. Whether they’ve been worn recently or not, clothing is a very common hiding place for bed bugs. They’re easy to treat; the high heat setting on any dryer will kill bed bugs and their eggs in a short cycle. Do the same for your beds’ sheets, covers, pillowcases, and pillows. Just make sure to check the labels on each item so nothing gets damaged.

Use a portable bed bug heater.

Since your shoes and books won’t make it out of the dryer in the best shape, you’ll need another treatment method for them. Portable bed bug heaters, like the new ZappBug Oven, are perfect for heat-treating your belongings. A ZappBug can safely heat up your shoes, books, luggage, chairs, rugs, papers, bedding and more. It can be set up in minutes, and starts heating with a push of a button; within six hours, any bed bugs or eggs inside will be toast.

Use new packing material and boxes.

Asking neighbors, family members, and local stores for their empty boxes has always been a smart way to move on a budget. However, this does carry a risk of inviting bed bugs to join you on the ride to your new home. To avoid this, consider purchasing new, sealed boxes and packing materials. You can find everything you need at your local post office, office supply store, or business shipping center. Don’t open the packages until you’re ready to start packing, to prevent bed bugs from hiding in them.

Don’t buy used furniture.

In the same vein of avoiding used boxes and packing peanuts, you should definitely steer clear of used furniture. Couches and mattresses on the street are one of the most common ways that bed bug infestations spread. The previous owners may or may not have known that they even had bed bugs, but either way it’s simply not worth the risk. If you do come across a pre-owned sofa or loveseat that you can’t resist, treat it with a vacuum and steamer as soon as you bring it home – when done properly, this will kill any bed bugs or eggs hiding inside the upholstery.

Do you have any advice for staying bed bug-free on the move? Don’t keep it to yourself; throw us a tip in the comments or on our Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ page.

Can bed bugs travel from apartment to apartment?

As you probably know, bed bugs are expert travellers. They can hide in luggage, clothing, and other belongings to find new homes across the street, across town, or even across the country. With that in mind, it should come to know surprise that they absolutely can travel from one infested apartment to other neighboring units.

Bed bugs can enter the walls of an infested room via light switches, electrical outlets, and pretty much any cracks or voids present. Remember, they can squeeze into any space thick enough for a credit card to fit. Once in the walls, bed bugs can easily travel along electrical wires and plumbing pipes to reach other rooms, or even other apartments.

It’s this ease of spreading that makes apartments such vulnerable targets for bed bugs. It’s an uphill battle, but fortunately there are steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of an infestation coming from your neighbors:

  • Apply a residual powder, like diatomaceous earth or CimeXa, to your walls, baseboards, and door frames. This will act as a long-lasting defense against bed bugs that try to enter your apartment. Be sure to wear gloves and use a professional powder applicator.
  • Use bed bug proof mattress and box spring encasements, as well as ClimbUp Interceptors, to safeguard your bed against wandering bed bugs looking for a meal.
  • Use a portable bed bug heater, like a ZappBug or ThermalStrike, to heat-treat your belongings after travelling, or when you suspect that you have infested items. This is a great way to not only ensure that you don’t have to deal with an infestation, but to protect your neighbors from a potential pest problem as well.

How To Tell If An Apartment Has Bed Bugs Before You Move In

Until 10 years ago, I thought bed bugs were nothing more than a childhood nursery rhyme. You know the one: "Sleep tight; don’t let the bed bugs bite." But then I unknowingly moved into a bed bug-infested building, and what ensued was hands down the worst year of my life. If you want to avoid avoid the physical, emotional, and financial turmoil that accompanies a bed bug infestation, then you need to know how to tell if an apartment has bed bugs before you sign the lease.

While bed bugs are present in every city, Terminix recently release its annual report of the most bed bug infested cities in the U.S. Topping the list are Philadelphia, New York City, Dallas-Fort Worth, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati. The report noted that 22% of people have had an experience with bed bugs, yet 48% don’t know what kind of precautions to take in order to prevent them. Fear not my friendlies: I am here to share with you what I wish I’d known before moving into a bed bug-infested apartment.

Fortunately, in 2019, landlords are prohibited from renting units with known infestations, and most states require property managers to provide tenants with information about bed bugs, according to the legal site Nolo. I received this information with my most recent lease. It included a clause that said the apartment was free of bed bugs as well as information about what to do if you suspect you have bed bugs in the future.

But before I get into how to make sure you’re not moving into a building with a bed bug problem, here’s the quick and dirty about bed bugs. It’s important to know that although they’re called bed bugs, they can be found on any surface, including in between floorboards, under carpets, and even inside of books. Bed bugs are nocturnal, meaning they come out at night to feast on the blood of humans. While they don’t transmit diseases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the bites are itchier than anything I’ve ever experienced.

If you think you can’t get them because you practice a level of cleanliness that could rival Monica fromFriends, bed bugs only eat blood, so it doesn’t matter how clean your home is. As long as there is blood in your body, you’re a very attractive meal for a bed bug.

In addition, bed bugs are notoriously hard to get rid of since the ban on the pesticide DDT in the 1970s, according to the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment at the University of Kentucky. They’re also very hard to see until they become adults, and even then they are only about as big as an apple seed. This is why you want to do everything you can to avoid getting them in the first place.

What’s more, they can go up to 18 months without feeding. This means that even if you’re moving into an apartment that’s been vacant for a while, you should still check for bed bugs before signing the lease. Because bed bugs can travel on clothes and other items, a never-lived-in unit can also have bed bugs.

The first thing you can do before viewing a potential apartment is to read Yelp reviews of the building and/or property management company, and check the address against the Bed Bug Registry. This is a site where people report bed bugs at hotels and residential properties. Because this information is self-reported, there is no guarantee a unit is safe just because it’s not listed on the registry, but it’s a good first step. I have checked every apartment I have lived in during the last 10 years against the registry.

In addition, if any unit in the building you’re looking at has been listed in the past year, know that bed bugs can easily travel from one unit to another in an apartment building. If the building is listed as having had a problem several years ago, it might be worth considering if you ask a lot of questions and get information from the property manager about their bed bug protocol.

Another thing you can do is take a playing card and run it along cracks between the baseboards and the floor and in between floorboards to see if any brown fecal matter or molted skin is visible. If the apartment is carpeted, try to pull up a section of carpet next to the wall to check for fecal matter or run a card in the area where the carpet meets the wall. The site Sniff K9s suggests using a blow dryer and running it over the same areas to check for live bed bugs. You can also hire a bed bug-sniffing dog to come check out the apartment before you sign your lease.

Overall, the best way to ensure the apartment you’re moving into is bed bug free is to arm yourself with information. Look up the laws in your city and state to find out what your landlord is required to tell you and who is responsible for paying for extermination should an infestation occur. Physically check out the unit using the aforementioned methods, check the registry, and read reviews of the building.

If anything feels off, walk away. While bed bugs are easier to manage and eradicate than they were 10 years ago ⁠— because there is more information available now ⁠— this is one experience you definitely don’t want to have. It’s been 10 years since my bed bug nightmare, and I’m still not over it.

Doom next door: What to do when your neighbor has bed bugs

There are two types of bed bug infestations: One marches into your home and takes over the room, while the other crawls into your brain and just won’t leave. It’s the itching when nothing is there, did that piece of lint just move kind of infestation — the paranoia induced by finding out that one of your neighbors has critters. Short of Scotch Guarding all of your possessions (not recommended, BTW) and sitting alone in a HAZMAT suit, since friends are just walking carriers, what do you do to calm your nerves and protect your residence when bed bugs are discovered next door?

To help you be Gandalf the Grey (“YOU SHALL NOT PASS!”), I rang up the bed bug pros at Hill and Sons Pest Management to find out. First, the bad news: your fear is well-placed. Bed bugs can travel 100 feet an hour, so if you have a fellow tenant with bedbugs, there is actually a good chance you’re next. When they get hungry, say after your neighbor has fled their infested apartment, they go on the hunt, easily finding a new home within the building, squeezing through any opening they can find.

The good news is there are preventative measures that your landlord should be paying for. New guidelines added to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development in 2011 state that landlords who receive complaints of bed bug infestation are responsible for treating the infested unit along with the units next to, above, and below.

A smart landlord will have the whole building checked, performing treatment to those units necessary, and applying insecticides to vulnerable cracks and crevices throughout the building. (If your landlord won’t do it, preventative treatment to a single unit will run you between $100-$300.)

So what can an apartment dweller do?
Make wooden headboards a no go, since the two things bed bugs love are warm places (i.e.: your scalp) and wood. You can buy a product called ClimbUp Insect Interceptor (roughly $16 for a pack of four ). These go on the four legs of your bed, or any other furniture in the home , and make it impossible for the bed bugs to climb up or down without getting caught. When using ClimbUps you want your bed and linens to be isolated.

Prevent your bed and bedding from touching the wall, rugs, floor, or furniture ensures that the bugs have no choice but to journey up the leg posts and get trapped. ClimpUps can be used on all furniture, the bed is just usually where if you have bed bugs they are going to be, or move to, since that is where they can snack on you the easiest. Some more prevention tips from our experts: Pick up plastic encasements for both your mattress and box springs, especially one that zips closed tightly with no opening. If you already have bed bugs, they get trapped inside and can’t bite through to snack on you. If you don’t, they won’t be able to get in.

Also, hunt for all openings and cracks at pipes, joints, and molding wide enough for a credit card to fit through. Seal them with silicone sealant (a.k.a caulk) to make it tougher for bed bugs to move from your neighbor’s apartment to your own. Lastly, once a week, vacuum thoroughly your carpet, drapes and upholstered furniture and dispose of the vacuum’s contents carefully, preferably in a sealed bag far from your apartment. Vacuuming and removing the contents outside the home can stop an infestation moving its way in, and is also especially helpful for people who buy thrifted items.

How can you tell if it’s too late?
If you find tiny bloodstains on the sheets from where you’ve been bitten .

Remember that poem from childhood? “Goodnight, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite, and if they do, beat them with a shoe, and then they’ll be black and blue.” Too bad that doesn’t actually work .

How bed bugs spread through apartment buildings

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The Journal of Economic Entomology has released a chilling case study of a massive bed bug infestation in a high-rise Indianapolis apartment building.

It’s a Ghost-of-Christmas-Future story for landlords, co-ops and condos interested in avoiding, say,a $250,000 bed bug clean-up bill.

You can download the study at the bottom of this post. Here’s a quick summary of the cautionary facts.

  • Nearly half of this 210-unit, 15-story low-income apartment building became infested within 41 months of the original problem, which likely started with a single resident who moved into a 12th floor apartment.
  • 50 percent of infested residents were completely unaware that they had bed bugs
  • Visual inspections alone failed to detect nearly half of the infestations.
  • The most reliable detection method was the placement of dish-like bed bug traps, aka “interceptors," under furniture legs.
  • Infested apartments tended to be right next door to each other (53%) or across the hall (45%).
  • Bed bugs frequently walked out of the front door of one apartment and into another on the same hallway.
  • Bugs were also spread through the building when infested furniture was discarded without wrapping it in plastic, by neighbors visiting infested apartments or infested common areas, and by an infested wheelchair used in common areas.

The study’s authors point out that financial constraints prevented these low-income residents—some of whom lived with infestations for two years—from taking some bed bug fighting measures like encasing mattresses, laundering clothes frequently, and replacing heavily infested furniture.

“Unfortunately, this population can pose additional challenges which are not indicative of all buildings,” notes BrickTank pest management expert Gil Bloom, who brought the article to our attention.

“However, the study certainly does underscore a need for a systematic approach to managing bed bugs,” says Bloom, the vice president of Standard Pest Management and a member of Mayor Bloomberg’s Bedbug Advisory Board.

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