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Not Bedbugs!

This poor girl, she whole heartedly thought she had bed bugs and was being eaten alive. I went over to do the inspection, the young women who answered the door was clearly stressed out and in a panic. It took several minutes to calm her down enough to be able to ask questions and get clear answers from her.

Some say calming clients is like counseling, I says it’s what needs to be done in order to do the treatment properly. Once she calmed, we did a walk through of the house inspecting the furniture and asking questions. Something wasn’t right, there were no signs, yet the environment suggested a high risk area since lots of people frequented the house. The bite marks did resemble bed bug bites, had progressed over a week and a half. The progression of bites would have suggested a minimum of 20-40 bugs.

This amount of bugs would have been seen during the inspection. I recommended she go see her doctor as soon as possible. 2 days later she came into the store in a panic once again, demanding a treatment for bedbugs, willing to pay double if it could be done asap! For sure I could have gone in and treated week after week, I could have treated simply on her demands. Of course that wasn’t the right thing to do as there was nothing to justify the treatment. If I did treat, there would be no success as nothing said it was bedbugs. I then told her to humour me by going to the doctor.

The next day I got a call stating she had chicken pox. Her doctor gave her medication for the pox which No treatment required. She wanted the treatment so bad because everyone said she needed it. Treatment cost would have been approx $700 each time and heck I could have gone over and over. good morals, bad business!

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Money down the drain.

This is a unique situation which does not happen very often, yet often enough to make awareness.
$6000 worth of treatments, 3 months, 4 different pest control companies, and then me!
This house had been destroyed by the previous exterminators, holes in the walls, carpet along walls lifted, all electrical and light covers removed and missing, light fixtures removed or hanging by their wires. First off the tenants were not cooperative from the beginning, which if it was me as a tenant I would not have been cooperative as well, their procedure did not make sense and ended up being evicted. This infestation started out as an average/large infestation of approx 1-1.5 years old and only in 2 out of 5 bedrooms. Even though the tenants were not cooperative, it still would have been beneficial to have them stay until month end before having them removed. First was a heat treatment. Vacant house which sounds simple with heat, yet the tenants were immediately evicted which meant the bedbugs had ample time to hitch hike out or find a good safe place to hide. Long story short it didn’t work. Their machine was only capable of heat treating 800sq ft and the house was totaling over 1800sq ft. The heat company knew that there was no way their machine would work and that’s when the heat company stopped answering her calls.  She moved onto a large nation wide pest control company who demanded 3 treatments a week apart from each other. (Spraying chemical without a food source available is not effective one bit, silly if you think otherwise)
3 weeks and 3 treatments later, no results as bugs were still being spotted after the third treatment. How were the bugs spotted? Stressed out, the owner would go sit on the floor and relax which brought a few out that were willing to take the risk.
Next was another large franchised company, this company sprayed 2 times with no luck and again stopped answering her calls.
She tried one more except this time it was a local owner operator. He drilled approx 40+ holes in the walls all throughout the house and applied several types of powders. He also sprayed once. After finding more live bugs, he also stopped accepting her calls. No one seemed to have an answer or solution until I got the call.
After inspecting the house, I was able to find a simple solution by applying 2 night watch machines and a verify in the house alone with a perimeter spray, yes a basic simple perimeter spray consisting of less than 1 liter of chemical. I was the only exterminator in Saskatoon that not only used Tempo wp20, I also used it combination with a night watch and verify. Night watch and verify are two tools available for vacant suites or houses. It slowly releases co2 and heat relative to body temperature to lure the bugs out of their hiding. 2 weeks later there was not a single sign of a live bug.

Bat bugs

Bat bugs? A new client started to see a pattern with the old exterminator. 20 out of 80 suites required bedbug treatments year after year always around the same time. The exterminator never had an answer to why the coincidence or give an explanation. I got the call and started inspecting as there was no way this building could have such a large bedbug infestation. One tenant said the bedbugs he found were during the day and on the wall. Ok, that’s not hard to believe as bedbugs have been known to be seen during the day and on walls, be it only when there is a disturbance or large infestation. During the inspection, not one suite had bedbugs that I could find except what the tenants provided me. If this infestation was large enough to be every year, the signs would be everywhere,yet nothing, not one single sign. I was new to bat bugs myself, yet I did have some knowledge shared with me from Dr Bob Randell of the University Saskatchewan. I started to implement the IPMP (integrated pest management program) with the tenants and landlord by monitoring for 2 weeks to find the pattern and on the odd chance, find a bug.
The temperature started to drop during the 2 weeks which started the hibernation process of the bats. 2 weeks later, monitoring was done, bugs were found and identified. This bug was hairy, darker, yet still looked identical as a bedbug, yet I knew it wasn’t, it was a bat bug. Normally for bedbugs you need to bag everything that is fabric, wash and dry all those items, and monitor, with a bat bug treatment, it simply consists of a perimeter spray, and seal all lights and fans in the ceiling. There can be a few other things that may need to be done depending location. What’s a bat bug? Bedbugs evolved from bat bugs. What does mean to you? Bat bugs will never reproduce from feeding off of humans, the feeding routine of bat bugs is not the same or as often as bedbugs, and Bat bugs do not hide where bedbugs do. Best thing about bat bugs, it’s typically only $100-200 to treat for them. Bat bugs usually make their way into your living space via washroom fan/vent, light fixture in ceilings, and possibly along boiler heating pipes. One thing to keep in mind it can be more expensive to get rid of the bats than anything which I do not do, I only get rid of the bugs, yet I can provide information how to relocate bats.

New rental company fail

A new company became to embarrassed to admit their wrong. The property manager said their tenants have no reason to know if there is a problem or not.
This was a well known company in Saskatchewan which I had not done much work for in the past. I was called to a suite for an inspection as they wanted to give me a try. What the tenants were telling me about the bites and where they were finding the bugs wasn’t adding up to them being the main source. I requested to inspect surrounding suites. During the inspection I found bedbugs in both suites on either side. The property manager now became difficult and was not wanting to inspect the suite across from the original suite. Finally they gave notice and once inside I discovered over 3 years worth of infestation. They were at his computer desk, sofa and bed. Not only that, since the infestation was over a year old, they were spreading, as in I found them at the door heading out. He wasn’t self treating or anything, it had been so long he just learnt to live with it. Looking back at the property mangers notes, every suite surrounding his had been treated multiple times yet somehow the problem suite never got inspected or treated.
How could this happen you ask? Well I did and their response was, “he has been a good long term problem free tenant. If there was a problem, he would tell me. Plus he is quite and doesn’t cause trouble so I leave him be”.
When a property manager, landlord, or owner says those words, I know there is an issue every time, every single time! Once the property manager acknowledged her error and the costs associated by assuming “he was a good tenant, he would tell me” they disappeared and I never heard from them again. One tenant did follow up weeks later asking when I was coming to treat, as the property manager refused to deal with the problem. The last day I inspected brought the total to 6 infested suites from 1 problem suite. Integrated pest management program, if your not using it, your doing it wrong! Plain and simple….

First Large Infestation

Only Client I have ever asked to remove furniture!
Don’t get me wrong, I did get a few big ones yet this job takes the trophy.
 This was a brand new client, as I was walking to my vehicle which was parked at the back of building only to find a tenant from the new clients building and he was placing an old wooden bed frame in the alleyway. I could not believe my eyes, heck I could see the feces marks on the bed frame at 30ft away, yes 30 feet away, blew my mind. never have I seen such a bed frame, the black feces spots were in mounds and the bright white eggs blended in looked like gooey salt and pepper. The amount of questions that were running through my head was almost headache worthy. What stood out to me was the fact I did not see any bugs on the frame. Did they fall off while he was carrying it out? Did he spray the bed frame before leaving the suite? With the amount of feces there should have been at least a few dozen yet not one. I started to approach yet the tenant turned back and headed into the building that I just came from. I followed him back into the building to confirm which suite he was in. I proceeded to go talk to the new client about his tenant, their reply “oh not him, if he had an issue he would tell us”. That right there is a huge red flag, I have never met a client that has not said those words and not had an infestation.If you are a landlord or owner that says that about your clients, give your head a shack and go inspect their place, it might not be bugs, yet it could be electrical, mold, etc, simply take it as a sign to inspect.
Two days later I finally got permission into the suite and that’s when the story started to unfold.
“How long since you noticed your first bite?” I ask.
“Umm years ago…..” The tenant responded.
I looked around the bachelor suite before entering, they were all over the suite,  in the computer, in the light fixtures, piles on the floor against the heater yet the eau de resistance was the mattress. Words will not describe this bed. What was once blue and white was now red, black, brown from all the blood stains and squished bugs.
“I got them awhile back from work, I had to go in an infested place.” Client’s tenant said
They were everywhere,
“10 years ago?” I asked
“Yeah you could say that” client responded.
After 2 treatments and a vacant suite treatment, the bed bug problem was finally solved. 8 directly connecting suites had a second treatment as precaution due to infestation size. The remaining 27 suites were completed in only one treatment. Prior to me entering the building, every suite in the building had been treated multiple times over a 10 year period except this one suite.
I started to question, did the other pest control companies know his suite was the problem suite and continued to ignore it only to make more money by repeatedly doing treatments? All any exterminator had to do in the past was follow the IPMP (Integrated Pest Management Program/Plan). This would have identified that this tenant was the source of the buildings problems. My calculations show that the building had spent approx $60,000-80,000 in treatment costs, rentalsmen cases, and lost rental income from tenants abandoning suites do to the infestation.
Due to the psychological impact bedbugs caused the client like stress, embarrassment, shame, fear, he was able to talk his way out of being inspected. This means that not one exterminator did their jobs properly otherwise this one suite would not have caused this many problems. I cannot imagine how many random people in the community (not the building) got infested by this gentleman.
Thanks for reading!