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What’s bugging you?

Dallas-Ft. Worth
What’s bugging you?
In March, 219  elderly and disabled residents moved out of the Fort Worth Housing Authority's Hunter Plaza after bedbugs infested the property. Talk about a biting problem.
Metro Pest Control SVP Greg Zarek and William Vizcarrondo
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—droppingsbloodstains, 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 in the workplace and the 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 the following day. 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.
Hunter Plaza
Apartment Association of Tarrant County's government affairs director Perry Pillow tells us that bedbugs are a problem and Hunter Plaza (pictured) is a prime example. The AATC is distributing forms to its members, which can be used as an addendum to leases to inform tenants about bedbugs and they're encouraging members to do pest control and treat immediately when bedbugs are reported. “The challenge is to keep it from spreading. They get in bedding and couches and if you're infested they go with you,” Perry says. At the University of North Texas, news manager Buddy Price says the university hasn't had a major outbreak of bedbugs. As a preventive measure, residence hall staff educates students to immediately report any suspected outbreaks. If a bedbug case is reported, UNT's pest control company is asked to investigate and fumigate the room and surrounding rooms, and the furniture is replaced, he says. That's one way to get a new recliner.