Bed Bugs – A Landlords Nightmare
So, here we are a week later and if you read my previous post where we first discovered we pests in my rental property (if you haven’t read it yet, please start here and then come back Bed Bugs Part 1), you’re probably curious to see how I dealt with them.
Well, I’m still actually dealing with these pests in my rental property, so it’s not over, but the good news is, our treatment is working after initially messing it up. Just to get you back up to speed, I initially had two options to get rid of them.
Bed Bug Treatment Options
Option one was spraying. This was going to require minimum three treatments and typically four or five. Each treatment costs around $600 and the overall effectiveness is around 90%. Part of the problem being where you catch the bugs during their life cycles.
If they are sprayed, haven’t died yet and then lay more eggs, you have to repeat with another spray and so on and so on, until you catch them at the right time. The downside being a) it’s not 100% effective, b) they become resistant to the pesticides over time requiring stronger and stronger chemicals and c) no one can be in the property during the spraying because of these chemicals for six hours. Then even after six hours, do you really want to be around the chemicals?
Option two is heat treatment. This works out to also require three treatments as the property has two upper levels and a finished basement. So one day in the basement, one day on the main floor and the third day on the upper level. The positive is this is 100% effective as they superheat the house to 120 degrees fahrenheit for several hours which kills the bugs themselves and I can only guess poaches the little eggs before they hatch rendering them inert.
This can be even more expensive though as it’s $1150 per day around here plus travel costs. Also, the tenants could stay for the first two treatments, although the house will be very warm, but on the third day I would have to put them up in hotels or find other alternatives, so it would easily be $4,000 for this approach.
Now fortunately, my pest fellow also introduced me to another option involving traps and dry ice. These involve small plastic containers with a center area where dry ice is placed and an outer ring that is covered in a fine talcum powder.
Bed Bug Traps
Using the dry ice traps was going to be considerably cheaper as the traps themselves cost about $120 for 24, plus the dry ice, which at the time I had no idea what the costs would be. It turns out for around 6 Kilos or 13 pounds, it’s just under $40 and I need that much each time I set up the traps.
The idea is you load up the traps, the dry ice which is CO2 evaporates and the bugs are attracted to the trap as the CO2 is what attracts them to people as they sleep. Once they climb over the outside wall of the container, they get trapped in the talcum area with the powder and can no longer climb out.
You simply go back the next day, empty the trap of all the bugs in the toilet and reload and repeat until there are no more bugs. Simple right? Well we really only learn from our mistakes…
Mistake number one, I picked up the traps on the Friday, went and bought my dry ice from one of the few local places that sell it, and proceeded to the property to set up the traps. I managed to roll this all into some other appointments that day and had all the traps set up by shortly after one in the afternoon and proceeded home to strip out of my clothes and set up a couple traps around my clothes in case I had brought visitors home with me.
Now it was waiting time! And learning time….
Apparently dry ice has a fairly short shelf life. So when I looked at my traps at home around nine that night, it was almost all evaporated, and by ten, completely gone. Since bed bugs are nocturnal, I wasn’t so sure how well this was going to work. My traps at home had nothing in them, which was good, I hoped, but the true test would be checking the property the next day.
The Next Day
So fast forward to checking the traps for bed bugs at the property and nothing. Absolutely nothing!! Just to complicate things even more, the dry ice place wasn’t open Saturday, Sunday or the Monday which was a holiday, so at this point I didn’t know if they simply didn’t work, if I set them too early, or if I really did have bed bugs!
Fast forward even more now to Tuesday. I’ve done some research and I’ve talked to my pest guy. He tells me that I should have caught something, even during the day if there was a huge infestation, maybe just maybe I only had a couple male bugs, and no females and I got lucky, but I’m best off trying again.
My research on dry ice helped me avoid a major catastrophe as I planned on buying more of it, taking it home and storing it in my freezer until that night when I would go out and re-set the traps. Apparently the extremely low temperatures of dry ice will cause freezers to shut down, instead you need to use coolers to slow down the evaporation and the coolers cannot be air tight as the gas needs to seep out. I was glad I did some research!
So picked up the ice, brought it home, put it in the cooler and off that night to set the traps around 7:30 and once again, I wait.
The Day After The Weekend After
So it’s Wednesday by now, time to see what if anything I’ve caught and lo and behold “Thar be bugs”! It looks like I’ve caught about 8 of them in the various traps spread around the rooms. All of them are very very tiny which indicates to my pest fellow that these are young bugs and I may have caught them fairly early in the cycle. That’s a good thing!
So Thursday night I repeat the process, I catch even more and here we are on Friday where I’m heading out this afternoon to buy a large order of dry ice which I’ll store over the weekend so I can make three more trips. I’ve been buying it in 6 Kilo batches, but for the weekend due to the decay of it, I’m going to pick up probably 30 Kilos so I still have some left over for Sunday.
The trick now is to stay on top of this every day until my traps remain empty. The positive is, it seems to be making a difference, none of the tenants are reporting any new bites and the traps I set up at home haven’t caught anything which is making my wife very happy.
I’ve also found multiple other variants on dry ice traps explained out on the internet and I’m not sure if they will work better, worse, are easier to work with or would be harder, but this is working for me, so I will just carry on.
It does require cooperative tenants and they see that I am trying to help them which really helps, and hopefully by mid next week and for around $600 in total I should have this solved! Fingers crossed!
As always, love to hear your thoughts and any feedback you may have.