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Don't Let Them Bite

Don't Let Them Bite
Metro Pest Control SVP Greg Zarek (left, with colleague William Vizcarrondo
Chicago now has a new reason for infamy as Terminix ranked our city fifth in bedbug population  around the country. The critters have been found in places like the Swissotel, Westin River North, and Sheraton Hotel and Towers, according to Bedbug Registry, a website that tracks bedbug findings. And New York-based Metro Pest Control SVP Greg Zarek (left, with colleague William Vizcarrondo) has seen a  100% increase in these pesky critters visiting commercial spaces this year. But it's not the landlord to blame—it's the tenant who brings in the bugs from home and is not being proactive in  treating residential infestations. You're not the only one taking public transportation to work, Greg says—the bedbugs are hitching a ride too. How do you know they're in your building? There's telltale signs—droppings, bloodstains, the bedbugs themselves, and itchy, bitten workers. They hide in cracks and crevices as small as 1/32 of an inch and can survive without a blood meal for more than a year, he notes.
What can landlords do? Regularly scheduled inspections are inexpensive and can warn you of an impending infestation at work and at home, Greg says. Chemical sprays, done on a monthly basis, leave a residual deterrent. Be wary of other methods to kill bedbugs, from heat to freezing, he says—many are expensive and not guaranteed to keep the bedbugs out. And many of those bedbug-sniffing dogs you see aren't as effective as claimed—they've learned to “find” bedbugs for treats, and follow-up inspections have shown nothing (except for a satisfied pooch). The firm has also created a Bed Bug Workplace Action Plan, which helps owners and facility managers be on high alert. Employers need to make sure employees are knowledgeable on how to identify an infestation and how to avoid spreading it, as well as speak up if they suspect a developing infestation at home or at work. Having a clear policy creates an environment of fairness and helps to dismantle the social stigma associated with this issue in the workplace, Greg tells us.