Insect infestations are the stuff of nightmares for the independent vacation rental owner. What steps can we take to guard against our properties becoming bug hotels?
Resurgence in bedbug infestations
The past 12 years has seen a resurgence of poison-resistant bedbugs in most parts of the US and Canada, according to Cottageblogger. And it’s the same in other parts of the world where they are experiencing similar bedbug insect infestations.
Bedbugs have been with us since early Egyptian times and it was the introduction of the pesticide DDT in the 1940’s that caused a marked drop in bedbug infestations. But that looks like it was a temporary blip for the bedbug.
Fortunately, I’ve never encountered them and hope I never will. But however clean your property, this silent, almost invisible bug can infiltrate, having hitch-hiked in or on the luggage of a well-traveled, unsuspecting guest. Even some of the best hotels have succumbed although they wouldn’t want to talk about it.
Bedbugs live on human blood and produce irritatingly itchy bites, but are not thought to pass on diseases. Nevertheless, these sinister tiny creatures have attained mythical proportions in the minds of travelers down the centuries.
Almost invisible, they hide in cracks
Secretive and no bigger than an apple seed, they hide in tiny cracks, coming out to feed only at night, which is why they seem invisible. You’d never know they were lurking there until they bite. Those who’ve seen one say it resembles a drop of blood with legs!
According to another reliable authority, the British Broadcasting Corporation, a single pregnant female bedbug can infest an entire apartment. All they need are human hosts to satisfy their thirst. The BBC warns that infestations can be hard to treat. As many as 90% of common bedbugs now have a mutation that makes them resistant to the insecticides, known as pyrethroids, used to kill them.
This resilience becomes apparent when you look on the internet for information about bedbugs and how to eradicate them. If you want to delve deeper, visit Bedbugcentral or Bedbugger. There’s even a TV channel devoted to the little mites: Bedbug TV!
Best left to the professionals?
Having an intense dislike of creepy crawlies, I’ve always taken steps to avoid insect infestations in so far as I possibly can. And that’s without even considering the expense. So my Florida property is treated at least weekly against insect infestations, especially termites and ants.
As I live remotely from the property, I have a watchful manager who does regular checks for any bug invaders, including bedbugs. At the first sign of any insect infestations, I call the local professional pest control company who are quick, reliable and efficient.
If you are not on the spot, you need this kind of support to root out any nascent insect infestations before they become established. Once established, they can be difficult and costly to eradicate. Think about the impact insect infestations might have on the guests who discover them – and the cost of rehousing them for the duration.
Take care with DIY solutions
You’ll find lots of DIY suggestions and solutions for insect infestations proposed on the internet and some may indeed work. But I would rather play safe and leave control to the experts. It might also be worth checking out any insurance angle, depending on your location.
If you decide on doing it yourself, remember that if the treatment involves poisons, you’ll need to consider your liability to guests, their children and pets.
It’s a pity we can’t resort to the preferred method in the old nursery rhyme:
Good night, sleep tight,
Don’t let the bedbugs bite.
And if they do
Then take your shoe
And knock ‘em ‘til
They’re black and blue!