Thomas Ballantyne ( @Thos003 ) interviewing Griffen Pest Solutions ( @griffinpest )
Bed bugs are a hot topic for many U.S. cities. Fortunately most of the metro areas Bulwark Exterminating covers have not been red zones. But I understand Griffin is experiencing a lot of bed bug requests.
Where is Griffin located?
Griffin: Griffin Pest Solutions corporate headquarters is located in Kalamazoo, Michigan, plus we have service branches in Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor as well. We service most of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula and Northwest Indiana. Cities in our service area include: Detroit, Ann Arbor, Battle Creek, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Flint and South Bend, IN.
Thos003: New York has had several retail outlets like Abercrombie and Hollister close down for bed bugs. What areas/properties are targets for bed bugs?
Griffin: We have seen a significant amount of bed bug business from the greater Detroit and Ann Arbor areas. This is no surprise as Detroit has been listed by several national pest control companies as one of the top 5 most infested bed bug cities in the U.S. Our bed bug heat treatment service teams are booked two to three weeks in advance. As business continues to grow, we are anticipating adding a 3rd shift.
Our biggest customers for bed bugs this year have been apartment communities and hotels. However, we have also treated college dorms, homeless shelters, hospitals, assisted living centers, recreational facilities, housing commissions and a good number of residential homes. Clearly bed bugs are spreading, with no end in sight.
Thos003: There is a lot of doom and gloom around the whole bed bug topic. The products that nearly made bed bugs extinct 30 years ago are no longer allowed by the EPA. So controlling bed bugs now is a whole new ball game. We are having to re-invent a solution.
How do bed bugs spread from property to property? And from city to city?
Griffin: Bed bugs are known as hitch-hikers. They are easily transported on people and their belongings. Some of the most common ways of getting bed bugs include picking them up while traveling. By simply putting your luggage on the bed in a hotel, bed bugs could latch on, or crawl in your luggage and you can bring them home with you.
Thos003: Are there other ways for them to spread beyond them being carried by their hosts?
Griffin: If you live in multi-unit housing, such as apartments or dorms, where you share a common wall, you may get bed bugs from your neighbor. Bed bugs only have to travel about 6 inches, through your walls, ceiling, or floors to reach you. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to prevent this from happening.
Another common way to get bed bugs is to buy used furniture at garage sales, antique shops or resale shops. Furniture is rarely inspected and bed bugs can easily hide in furniture cracks. Once inside your house, the bed bugs will multiply. People need to understand that bed bugs are not a cleanliness issue. Bed bugs are a people issue.
Thos003: A lot of bugs go dormant during the cold seasons. What about bed bug?
Do you expect bed bugs to die down for the winter?
Griffin: Living in a cold weather climate, we typically see insect activity dramatically decline in the winter. However, with bed bugs we do not anticipate a drop in activity. Bed bugs are on the rise across the country and Michigan has just scratched the surface of the bed bug issue. With the cold weather, people will be spending more time indoors, where it’s warm. Bed bugs live where people live, so the cold weather does not affect them.
Thos003: Wow, Christmas coming up soon and a lot of travelers. How will this affect bed bugs?
Kids are coming home from college; people are traveling to visit family and friends, and bringing bed bugs with them. We expect to see a spike in bed bug activity about 45-60 days after the holidays. This is about the amount of time it takes for bed bugs to multiply to a significant infestation level.
What can one do to protect themselves while traveling?
Griffin: When traveling, people need to be vigilant. If they’re staying in a hotel, inspect the room before you bring your luggage to the room. When doing an inspection, bring a bright flashlight. Look for insects the size, shape and color of an apple seed. Bed bugs also shed their skins as they grow, so you may see some casings. Pull back the bed sheets and check the mattress for small rust stains, bed bug excrement, about the side of a pencil eraser. Look under the mattress, inside the end tables and most importantly, behind the headboard. If you can take the headboard off the wall, do it. Hotels can change out bedding and mattress, but usually don’t switch the headboard. If there are no bed bugs behind the headboard, you can be reasonably sure your room does not have bed bugs. If you see any signs of bed bugs, ask for another room nowhere near the room you just came from…or check out of the hotel.
We also tell people not to place luggage on the bed or floor. Keep it as far away from the bed as possible. When traveling, our team puts luggage in the bathtub. We also travel with large zip-lock clothing bags and put all dirty and unworn clothes into the bag. When you get home, immediately dump the contents of the bag into your clothes dryer and turn it on the hottest setting for at least 30 minutes. Don’t overload the dryer though. You need the hot air to circulate. Vacuum your luggage and then store it in your garage or basement, away from where you sleep. Be sure to remove the vacuum bag, double bag it and throw it away. I know all of this seems excessive, but it is well worth the hassle. Getting rid of bed bugs can be very expensive.
Thos003: That is some great advice. I’ve got some of my own precautions I use when traveling. The bit about keeping the luggage away from the bed and floor is priceless. But honestly never considered placing it in the tub. Thanks! I am sure there are lot of people searching the internet right now for some tips on controlling bed bugs. Lot of good and some bad advice online as well. Are there some other resources people should use online for bed bug advice?
Griffin: Yes. Be proactive before you travel, check out www.bedbugregistry.com and www.tripadvisor.com. On these sites, consumers report bed bugs. BedBugRegistry is straight forward. However, on TripAdvisor, you will need to search by city name and key words “bed bugs”, and then read the consumer comments. If a property is listed or a consumer comments about bed bugs, you may want to stay somewhere else.
Thos003: Awesome. And while these precautions may seem extreme, getting a bed bug infestation in my own home isn’t something I would ever want to experience. So again, great advice. I would also add one more tidbit for the holiday season, send all of your new clothes through a dry cycle when you bring them home from your Christmas Shopping.
Learn more about bedbugs on www.GriffinPestSolutions.com webpage about Bed Bugs.
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