Questions and Answers from In-House Bed Bug Management Webinar: Part 1

Click to jump to the Q&A in each topic area

Part 1

Part 2


Can I use the recording to train others?

Absolutely! We appreciate knowing how our materials are used so that we can tell our funders (HUD and USDA). Please let us know the number of people you educate with our materials and what more we can do to help you stop pests.

Can I get a copy of the slides?

A .pdf of the slides are available at

Can I get credit for this class?

Association and licensing credits were not available for this training, but many employers had staff members attend. If you need proof of attendance, there is a link to certificate at the end of the video.

Is there a model request for proposal (RFP)/contract available?

StopPests is working on one for bed bugs (estimated completion Fall 2014). It will be posted along with other sample RFPs at

If you have any further questions, please contact us at

Resident Education

Do you have resident education materials available in other languages?

Print resources


Can we print the slides and photos? We would like to put together something to send our tenants to educate them on bed bugs and how to avoid bringing them in to their units.

You are welcome to print out the slides from this presentation or share the recording, but for resident education materials, you may consider the following resources:

Biology & Behavior

How long will bed bugs eggs be viable before hatching?

Bed bug eggs usually hatch within 14 days.

Is there a difference in the amount of infestations based on the seasons?

Many pest management companies have reported more complaints in the warmer months, but the bugs are not seasonal themselves. The seasonal trend might be because more people travel and visit each other in the summer. We don’t know!

Why do you keep talking about lawsuits? Bed bugs are considered a “nuisance” in our area.

That’s great to hear! How communities handle bed bugs varies widely. Some states even have bed-bug-specific laws. They are pests to be dealt with, but they have not been found to transmit disease like cockroaches and mice do.

Can bed bugs carry any type of disease if they bite one person and then bite someone else? Transfer of blood? Are they defined as a public health issue or just a nuisance? Do they carry any zoonotic diseases?

Bed bugs have been found to carry, but NOT transmit disease. They are a pest of significant public health importance.

Are bed bugs attracted to the wood of home or wood chips and then move to mattresses because the food sleeps on them?

No, bed bugs are not attracted to wood. You will not find populations of bed bugs outside. They are attracted to heat, CO2 (our breath), and the smell of each other.

Do bed bugs fly?

No, bed bugs do not have wings for flying or long legs for jumping. They only crawl (at about the speed of an ant).

How big do bed bugs get?

The nymphs (babies) are the size of a poppy seed. The adults are a little smaller than an apple seed. All life stages are visible without a microscope.

Do you have to worry about food? Since bed bugs only suck blood, I assume you do not.

No, they are not attracted to food. If there are bed bugs in a kitchen, there is usually a heavy infestation throughout the home.

Can bed bug eggs transport via clothes? I heard they are sticky and transport easily. Is this true?

Bed bug eggs can be on clothing, but if there are eggs on a piece of clothing, you’ll probably see adult bugs too. The eggs are only sticky when they first come out of the female. They harden quickly and then are no longer sticky. Eggs stuck to clothing were laid there by a female, they didn’t stick to the item of clothing when it brushed the egg.

Do other bugs eat bed bugs? Are we upsetting the ecosystem with the desiccant dust?

Spiders, ants, and cockroaches have been seen eating bed bugs, but have never been considered a viable control strategy. Bed bugs only live indoors. Desiccant dust helps us achieve pest-free buildings which is what we strive for in healthy housing.

Personal Protection

A few notes to help you understand the bed bug (and your risk):

  • Bed bugs do not jump, fly, or burrow into the skin. They only crawl (about the speed of an ant).
  • You CAN see bed bugs. A flashlight helps. The nymphs (babies) are easiest to see on a black background. The adults are easiest to see on a white background.
  • People/homes do not get “infected” with bed bugs. If there are multiple life stages present (eggs, nymphs, adults) the area can be said to be “infested.” One bed bug is not an infestation.
  • Infestations are most likely where people come and go often with belongings, there are places for bed bugs to hide undetected, AND people sit/lie down for long periods of time. Infestations result from a few scenarios. Research is being done to figure out more about when an infestation grows vs. the bugs not surviving:
    • An infested object is brought into an area. This is the only way to get an instant infestation.
    • A pregnant female is brought into an area (or crawls under a door/along wiring/pipes), lays eggs, her nymphs survive to adulthood (a few months with access to blood), they mate and lay eggs. Bed bug incest.
    • Multiple bed bugs are introduced into an area, grow to adulthood (if they are nymphs), find each other and breed, lay eggs, etc. (a few months with access to blood).
  • Introductions are likely where people come and go often with their belongings. An introduction may never result in an infestation.
  • Bed bugs do not transmit disease.
  • Bed bugs are not programmed to hitchhike. They will not chase you in order to hitch a ride out of an infested unit.
  • If a bed bug is disturbed/jostled it will wedge itself into a seam/fold.
  • More resources are at our Public Health Professionals page.

How should I dress when working (inspecting, doing maintenance projects, treating, etc.) inside a unit?

To minimize your risk, focus on what you do in a home more than what you wear. Avoid placing bags/purses/equipment etc. on upholstered furniture or beds. Do not sit on or brush against upholstered furniture or beds. If possible, sit with residents in a kitchen rather than the living/bed room. If you take these precautions and do not see bed bugs crawling across the floor at your visit, then you can feel fairly certain there are no bed bugs on you.

The recommendation for clothes is similar to the recommendation for furniture: easy to inspect and easy to clean. The fewer seams, pleats, cuffs, pockets, and folds your clothes and shoes have, the less likely a bed bug will be able to hang on and go unnoticed. Bed bugs can be hard to spot on fabric with busy prints, so choose items that are one color.

A note on disposable suits/booties: When someone comes into your home with a full-body disposable suit on, it’s hard to avoid feeling like you and your home are a public health threat. We do not want to give this impression and further the stigmas associated with bed bugs. Disposable suits may be warranted when moving infested furniture or doing major repairs in an infested area. (Note: furniture disposal is not a best practice in bed bug management.) If you do wear protective outerwear in a home, explain to the resident that you are simply trying to prevent spreading bed bugs to new areas. Also mention that you did the same thing in other homes in order to protect him/her.

For more specific recommendations, visit University of Minnesota’s Let’s Beat the Bug page.

What type of protective gear should managers, pest management professionals, healthy homes inspectors, etc. wear inside a unit that has bed bugs?

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for Bed Bugs
PPE Bed bugs not readily visible, no direct contact with infested items. Bed bugs readily visible, no direct contact with infested items Contact with infested items
Shoe covers*   x x
Disposable gloves     x
Disposable suit*     x
General clothing recommendations (see above) x x x

*Booties and coveralls are not recommended for police conducting home visits because of possible tactical interference.

After inspecting a unit and finding bed bugs, how do you prevent yourself from spreading the bed bugs to another place (another unit, home, office, etc.) after being exposed to them?

Set yourself up for success by going to work prepared with a “bed bug containment kit.” Before leaving the unit, use a flashlight to look over your clothes and shoes for bed bugs. If you see one, use a piece of tape to get it (fold the tape over it and throw it away). If you find a bed bug on yourself, after removing it, go to a restroom, change into a new set of clothes, and tie your old set in a plastic bag (put the dry clothes in a clothes dryer for 30 minutes on high heat when you get home). This information and more is at the University of Minnesota’s Let’s Beat the Bug page.

How easy is it to transport bed bugs during healthy home visits from one home to another?

Hopefully reading through the notes on bed bugs at the beginning of this section helped you know that the likelihood of you carrying bugs from one home to another can be quite low. We can’t know for sure, but the most logical way for bed bugs to get on you and hitchhike to another home is when you jostle an item that has bed bugs on it, the bed bugs fall onto you, and they get caught/wedge themselves into a fold, pleat, cuff, pocket, etc.

What about management psychotherapy while dealing this issue? This does affect workers at their homes?

Many people are afraid of insects. They are likely not cut out for this type of work.

A staff member or resident may show signs of delusional infestation. To learn more, view our recorded webinar, “The bugs that won’t go away: your role in delusional infestation.”

I have heard that keeping a bottle filled with 91% alcohol content to spray area where people sit is a deterrent to bed bugs. Also to keep shoes sprayed with alcohol. Is that true?

No, isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol of any strength will not repel/deter bed bugs. It evaporates quickly. At this time, no repellent is labeled for use against bed bugs. We recommend disposable shoe covers if you are working in a home where the infestation is so high that bed bugs are crawling across the floor. Bed bugs do not jump or fly and are not trying to hitchhike. If a bed bug is on your shoe, it crawled there or fell onto your shoe (by accident).

If you can, choose shoes black shoes that are simple in construction and design (for example, black leather clogs). These shoes offer few places where a bed bug could wedge in and are easy to quickly inspect after working in a unit.

Reoccurring Infestations

We have the technology to get control of bed bugs in any situation. Integrated Pest Management is a process:

  1. Inspect and monitor for signs of bed bugs. How many are you finding over the course of one week? Where are you finding them? What signs are you seeing?
  2. Identify what is found. Is it a bed bug?
  3. Plan your control strategy. What tools will you use? Is the response scaled to the level of infestation? Are the tools appropriate for the type of building and the home? When should you expect to see improvement? When will the follow up inspection occur?
  4. Evaluate effectiveness through inspection and monitoring (see Step 1).

Do not go through this process more than two times using the same control strategy. If it doesn’t work after the first two tries, something has to change. To discuss your specific situation, ask your pest management professional to call in a service manager or contact us at to trouble-shoot. It is often hard to determine whether an infestation is due to treatment failure or a new introduction of bed bugs.

How can residents be forced to deal with severe bed bug infestations, i.e. move out their belongings, wash and dry clean clothes, dispose of beds or overstuffed furniture, declutter their units?

Housekeeping such as laundry, decluttering, and furniture removal are all control options that should be planned in a case-by-case basis. We do not recommend having a “prep sheet” that is used regardless of infestation level. If a pest management professional can inspect the room and get around easily enough to perform the treatment (which may be chemical or non-chemical), then the treatment has a good chance of succeeding. Requiring residents to perform burdensome, unnecessary prep may lower community-wide cooperation with your bed bug management plan.

Related article: “What Causes Bed Bug Control Failure? The Resident Factor”

First, determine whether the resident can’t do their part or won’t do their part.

Those who can’t do their part may have literacy, language, physical, cognitive, or financial limitations. Solutions will depend on the limitation. For best results, provide picture-based guidance, break each task down into small steps, check in with the resident at least a day before the service is scheduled, and reach out to community support services when possible.

Those who won’t do their part are refusing to cooperate with your realistic requests. Enforce lease provisions to drive cooperation.

What are the repercussions if the tenants do not comply with the bed bug policies?

Depends on the lease/policy, but it needs to be specified. Often there is language in the lease about complying with housing/contractor requests (and the repercussions for refusal).

Are you aware of anyone who has already written policies available?

In multifamily HUD building, should the PHA pay for totes, bags other supplies for residents?

Compliance increases when the PHA absorbs the cost or offers residents a payment plan. HUD’s bed bug notices specify what housing must provide for free.

Managing Introductions

Many of our residents are formally homeless and often bring in guests from the homeless shelter which by the way is infested with bed bugs, thus when these guests come to visit they bring in bed bugs. Do we have any recourse?

We have heard of some properties that try to manage the belongings that guests of residents bring in, but the legal aspects of this vary. The closer to the source of the bed bugs you can focus your control efforts, the better. I’d recommend working with the shelter to get their infestation managed to a point where they are dealing with introductions quickly and effectively.

Educating your residents on what they can do to protect their homes is another way to handle the hitchhiker issue. Setting up your units for early detection will be key to stopping the introductions from becoming infestations.

We cant keep [the clothes visitors that have bed bugs on them] and we have had hitchhikers jump from clothing on to the receptionist’s desk.

You probably meant “fall” rather than “jump,” I just need to clarify due to the size of this audience that bed bugs cannot jump or fly, they only crawl.

It sounds like the risk of bed bugs being introduced into your reception area is very high. Fortunately, the chance of an infestation starting is fairly low. Have a professional place passive monitoring devices near desks to help confirm that an infestation hasn’t begun. Keep the reception area inspectable and cleanable—that includes chairs.

If you can see the bed bug, catch it with a piece of tape, fold the tape over, and throw it away. If you think you may have missed one, vacuum the walls and furniture near (within a few feet) of where the person traveled (throw away the vacuum bag outside as soon as you are done). In addition, vacuuming the floor and chairs in this area on a weekly basis should catch any beginning infestation. Preventive pesticide application is not usually necessary in these areas, but if the staff members demand treatment, consider desiccant dust.

Can we require new tenants to have their belongings inspected either prior to moving in or within a short time after moving in?

You may consider asking resident whether there were sticky trap and bed bug monitors in their previous home and if so, whether they caught pests. Monitors (along with inspection) are the best way to detect low level infestations. You may also ask whether there was an active bed bug (or cockroach or mouse) infestation in their previous home. If so, take measures with their belongings/new home. Treating each new resident’s belongings (even if it is heat treatment) is not cost effective. Do not deny someone housing due to exposure to bed bugs.

Trying to get into every new residents former home and/or inspect all of their furniture is unrealistic for most housing agencies. The chances of finding a low level infestation on furniture that is in the process of being moved are not good.

We recommend housing have passive monitors in place when residents move in and conduct a housekeeping inspection within 90 days of move-in and at least annually thereafter. This gives the residents a chance to settle in (and use their housekeeping skills) before an inspection happens. This inspection can be used to find infestation and hoarding behavior early. Our goal is to catch infestations while they are still low-level and relatively easy to eliminate.

Are tenants required to report new furniture or pest sightings (including bed bugs)?

Most housing sites don’t have time to deal with reports and inspection of new furniture. Teach residents to inspect used furniture for themselves. Many leases do require residents report pests, mold, and other maintenance issues. Make sure residents know how to report and that they will not be charged for pest control service.

What would be the tenants responsibility if they were to introduce bed bugs into the housing facility?

The tenants responsibility should be in the lease. Repercussions for introducing bed bugs are rare and are not necessary for a building-wide bed bug management plan. Fear of repercussions may result in residents not reporting which is counter-productive to the goal of early detection and rapid response.

Do you have a sample protocol when an infestation is reported?

Follow the steps of Integrated Pest Management (IPM):

  1. Schedule an inspection by someone with bed bug experience. Inspect and check monitors for signs of bed bugs. How many are you finding? Where are you finding them? What signs are you seeing?
  2. Identify what is found. Is it a bed bug? If so, call a pest management professional.
  3. Plan your control strategy with a pest management professional. What tools will you use? Is the response scaled to the level of infestation? Are the tools appropriate for the type of building and the home? When should you expect to see improvement? When will the follow up inspection occur?
  4. Evaluate effectiveness through inspection and monitoring (with inspection and monitoring).

Have you noticed problems occurring because of residents’ contacts with public transportation—cabs, buses, etc.?

No more than all the other public places where people travel and therefore may introduce bed bugs.

Inspection, Monitoring, and Evaluating Treatment Effectiveness

What is a monitor?

Most pests that plague our homes are most active at night. If you see them during the day, the infestation is likely serious. Monitors are devices that act as eyes and ears when we’re not around. They catch pests and hold them till we have the chance to see. Monitors are often pest-specific. Read our blog post, “Monitoring: an essential part of IPM” to learn more.

In a HUD facility, can you regularly inspect an apartment (i.e. monthly)?

Yes, but you need to specify the frequency of inspections and notification policy in the lease/pest policy (and the repercussions for refusal).

How often should we inspect? 100% annually?­

Every time a professional enters a home, there is an opportunity for inspection. Having monitors in place for bed bugs and other crawling pests makes it easy for inspectors to see pest activity. Make sure maintenance staff, home visitors, property managers, and pest management professionals are all in-sync when it comes to notifying management about bed bugs and getting a pest management professional involved.

Existing opportunities for inspection:

  • Monthly filter changes by maintenance
  • Maintenance completing work orders or home visits by family/health professionals
  • Annual housekeeping inspections
  • Regular pest control inspection (quarterly, twice a year, or annual)

StopPests recommends keeping a focus list of units that warrant monthly visits. Focus units may have active infestations or enough pest conducive conditions to justify this level of surveillance.

What are the repercussions if the tenants do not comply with the bed bug policies (including inspection)? Can a resident refuse to let you into the bedroom?

Permission to enter a unit (as specified in the lease) includes entering the bedroom.

When dealing with a difficult resident, first, determine whether the resident can’t do his/her part or won’t do his/her part.

Those who can’t do their part may have literacy, language, physical, cognitive, or financial limitations. Solutions will depend on the limitation. For best results, provide picture-based guidance, break each task down into small steps, check in with the resident at least a day before the service is scheduled, and reach out to community support services when possible.

Those who won’t do their part are refusing to cooperate with your realistic requests. Enforce lease provisions to drive cooperation.

What is a passive monitor?­ Examples? Do you have a picture?

A passive monitor is an object that catches bed bugs when the bugs crawl over/fall into it. Research-backed examples include “ClimbUp” and “BlackOut.” For more details and pictures, visit TAMU’s Insects in the City.

Where can we purchase passive monitors? How much do they cost?

Affordable housing may be able to get the best rate wholesale from the manufacturers (find them online). Retail cost is approximately $4 per interceptor. They can be reused.

If the passive monitoring stations are not sticky, how do they keep the bed bugs contained?

Bed bugs coming from the floor crawl up the textured side. When they get to the top, they fall into the well. The surface of the sides of the well are too slippery for them to climb out. They struggle to death.

If the leg of a piece of furniture is placed in the center of the monitor, then the well creates a moat around the furniture leg.

Moat-style bed bug monitors are effective at detecting bed bugs even when they are not placed under the leg of a piece of furniture. In affordable housing, we find they stay in place better when they are under the leg of a piece of furniture. Creative residents may use them as frisbees or ash trays.

­Besides transport by humans, how else do bed bugs get brought into facilities etc.? Do they travel on rodents?­

Bed bugs get to a new place in one of two ways: they get carried or the crawl. They get carried into facilities on objects (furniture, backpacks, mobility aides, purses, etc.) or on people’s clothes. Bed bugs do not burrow into the skin or infest people’s hair. They may crawl to adjacent areas under doors or along pipe chases, wires, or other building systems that go between units.

Bed bugs are no good at hanging onto the hair of pets, rodents, or humans.

I just received a surge protector with a built-in bed bug trap at a pest management meeting. Have any of the panelists done or seen research on them? How they compare to other monitors?­

In a side-by side field test comparing with ClimbUp interceptors performed by Rutgers University, it caught similar number of bed bugs as ClimbUp interceptors (one surge protector vs one ClimbUp beside the baseboard of infested apartments). If this research is published, it will be posted in our research database

Read our blog post “Good Gadget or Gimmick” to learn how to evaluate new products for yourself.


Where can you get a vial of bed bugs to compare to a tenant’s sample?

We hope you want a dead one! Ask your local pest control company to put some in a vial of clear hand sanitizer for you. It (they) will be dead and suspended in the gel which makes them easy to see/show.

Scaling the Response

What about asking residents to remain in their rooms until treatments (of any kind) are done? This to be done in an effort to minimizing the spread of bed bugs. Are their legal issues to be aware of?

In many states and housing situations, landlords to have requirement pertaining to bed bugs:

High level infestations do not happen over night. If you are finding many bugs, the resident has been living in that situation for a while. Many times, residents are willing to continue to live in their home while the infestation is eliminated. Whole-unit heat treatment and vacuuming may be the most efficient way to knock down a high level infestation (and remove the evidence).

The fastest way to meet the goal of stopping bed bugs from feeding on the resident is to determine what the residents are sleeping on and make those items as bed-bug-free as possible. Note that resident may be sleeping on floor mats or air mattress that are put away during the day.

  • Sofas, recliners, etc.: Pull away from the wall and nearby furniture. Vacuum thoroughly using a crack and crevice tool. (Tip: use a panty hose!) Steam seams, folds, and areas where you see signs of bed bugs. If possible, put the legs in passive monitoring devices. Have a licensed pesticide applicator treat the item with desiccant dust following the label directions. See the next bullet for recommendations for blankets and pillows.
  • Beds: Pull away from the wall and nearby furniture. If the mattress does not have a box spring/frame, install these (a frame with legs). Vacuum the mattress and frame thoroughly using a crack and crevice tool. (Tip: use a panty hose!) Launder bedding on high-heat settings. (Tip: if an item is not dirty/dry-clean-only, simply put it in a dryer for 30 minutes on high heat.) Encase the mattress and box spring. Heat, replace, or encase the pillows. If possible, put the legs in passive monitoring devices. Put the bed-bug-free bedding back on the bed.

Note: this will not eliminate the infestation in the home.

What does it mean if the pest pressure WARRANTS treatment?

“Pest Pressure” is determined by the risk of pests arriving in an area.

  • Example of HIGH bed bug pressure:
    • Ms. A lives in a bed-bug-free unit that shares a hollow wall with Ms. B’s unit.
    • Ms. B’s unit is has a heavy infestation.
    • Ms. B watches Ms. A’s son after school.
    • The pest pressure on Ms. A’s unit is HIGH.
  • Example of LOW bed bug pressure:
    • Mr. A lives in a bed-bug-free unit that shares a poured cement wall with Mr. B’s unit.
    • Mr. B’s unit has no bed bugs (verified by passive monitors).
    • Mr. A doesn’t get many visitors.
    • Mr. A’s unit has all the furnishings he wants.
    • The pest pressure on Mr. A’s unit is LOW.

Continue to Q&A Part 2 >