When it comes to household pests none are quite so devastating and frustrating to deal with than bed bugs. Once bed bugs stake their claim on your home or office it can be a very real challenge to remove them. Bed bugs are resilient, and they can withstand many of the types of attacks that would easily eradicate other household pests.
Bed bugs can withstand most DIY remedies, shrugging them off with little or no care at all. Professional treatments are effective, but they can also be costly and time-consuming. In the final analysis the best defense against bed bugs is a strong offense. That means avoiding an infestation whenever possible.
So, what should you do if you learn that your neighbor has been infested with bed bugs? How can you protect your own home and family?
The good news is bed bugs are mostly sedentary pests. They like to stay in one place. At least as long as there is a steady food supply. As a rule they won’t roam far from their hosts, so if your neighbor has bed bugs it’s unlikely they will travel from one house to another without any direct provocation. However, that’s no guarantee that they won’t.
While bed bugs are slow to travel, they are quite happy to hitch a ride on people and their belongings. Bed bugs often come into our homes literally riding on our coat tails. They hitch a lift on our clothes and personal belongings. Once in the home they begin to feed and reproduce; and the infestation is underway.
So if you find your neighbor has been hit with a bed bug infestation the first thing to do is take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your home.
Talk to Your Neighbors About the Problem
Bed bugs can often be a touchy subject, particularly when raised between neighbors. There are a lot of myths surrounding bed bugs and many people can be hesitant, if not downright embarrassed, to admit they have an infestation. There is a stigma attached to bed bugs, and many people still believe that an infestation means your home must be filthy.
Bed bugs can often be a touchy subject, particularly amongst neighbors. There are a lot of myths surrounding bed bugs, and people tend to be hesitant (if not downright embarrassed) to admit they have an infestation in their home. But any stigmas that may be attached to bed bugs need to be dismissed. These pests don’t care how rich you are or how clean your home may be. They are interested in one thing and one thing only – food. Bed bugs will happily invade any environment to secure a steady diet of human blood, regardless of how clean or swanky the property.
When you talk with your neighbors start off by putting them at ease. Let them know that you understand this isn’t their fault, and that the infestation does not reflect poorly on them or their household. Bed bug infestations are becoming increasingly common, and there is no reason to make your neighbors feel worse than they already do. Remember, you may be worried about your own home but your neighbors are smack dab in the middle of a crisis.
Be Helpful – Make Suggestions on How to Deal with the Infestation
If you’ve never dealt with a bed bug infestation it can be a little daunting, and it can be difficult to know what to do first. Speak with your neighbor about their approach to the problem. If they haven’t called in a professional pest removal service offer to help them find a certified bed bug inspector. Talk over ways to mitigate the problem, using traps and sprays until the pest control experts can put their plan in motion and eradicate the infestation once and for all.
In the Meantime – Protect Yourself and Your Home
If you find out your neighbor has bed bugs you need to take the situation seriously and proceed accordingly. First, if you live in a single unattached family home (as opposed to a condo, apartment, or row-home) the chances of cross-contamination are fairly minimal. Still, you need to be aware of the situation and take some simple precautions, such as:
- Routinely inspect your home for signs of bed bugs (check out How to Tell if You Have Bed Bugs)
- If your have children or pets that play outside (or at your neighbor’s home) be sure to examine their clothes and other belongings when coming into your home
- Check your clothes and your belongings for bed bugs after leaving your neighbor’s home and before entering your own
- Keep your neighbor’s trash isolated from your own
If you live in an apartment or other home with connecting walls you should be a bit more concerned. Bed bugs have adapted to hide in, and travel through, the tightest spaces. They can make their way through cracks in the wall, ventilation ducts, shared pipes, and even through electrical outlets.
If you share a wall with a neighbor that has bed bugs there is a high risk that they will migrate into your living space. This is particularly true when your neighbor begins treating their home for bed bugs. The pests can often move away from the treated areas and search for safer spaces – and that often means escaping into a neighboring unit.
If a unit in your condo or apartment complex has bed bugs there are some steps you can take to protect yourself and keep those blood-sucking pests out of your own home:
- Learn how to identify bed bugs and the warning signs of an infestation
- Seal cracks and crevices in connecting walls
- Reduce clutter in your apartment to make it harder for bed bugs to hide from view
- Install bed bug traps in high risk areas (bedroom, common areas, etc.) to aid in detection
- Install mattress covers and encasements on all beds to reduce the risk of long term infestation
- Vacuum regularly (at least once a week) to reduce risk of infestation. Thoroughly vacuum carpets, drapes, and upholstered furniture and safely dispose of the vacuum’s contents after every use.
- Keep in contact with your neighbors and monitor the progress of their bed bug removal program
Follow Up and Follow Through
If you find out your neighbors are suffering through a bed bug infestation it is important to protect yourself and your home. Part of that is staying in contact with your neighbors to keep abreast of the situation and to lend a helping hand when possible.
If, by chance, you begin to see stray bed bugs in your own home do not delay – call in a professional bed bug inspection and removal service as soon as possible. The sooner you take action the sooner you can avoid becoming the neighbor dealing with a bed bug invasion.