Gil Bloom is the technical director for Standard Pest Management in Long Island City, NY. He has been ridding people of pests for about 25 years, and has recently been appointed to the NYC Bed Bug Advisory Board by Mayor Bloomberg. He gave some insight into some of the causes for the recent bed bug problem. An edited version of the conversation follows:
Q. BEFORE THIS RECENT SURGE IN BED BUGS INFESTATION, HOW OFTEN DID YOU USUALLY DEAL WITH THEM?
A. What you’re calling a recent surge in bed bugs started in the year 2000. I would say before that it was one every two years.
Q. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE BIGGEST REASON THAT MORE PEOPL HAVE STARTED TO GET BED BUGS?
A. Probably pesticide use patterns. And that there used to be a lot of general spraying with different types of materials and newer pest control methods are specific to specific pests and basically utilize baits, which are not available for bed bugs to consume.
Q. CAN YOU WALK ME THROUGH A TYPICAL REMOVAL OF BED BUGS?
A. Typical bed bug control service involves, A) identifying and making sure it is a bed bug pest. Determining the level of clutter and the extent of the bed bug population. We then require cooperation of the resident with certain preparations such as wandering; it might involve vacuuming again depending upon the levels of bed bugs or amount of clutter. Our service then consists of an initial service which treats wall voids with a dust, utilizes a dry steam sanitizing material and also the use of pesticides, crack and crevice insecticides for bed bugs. We then make a follow up service 10 to 15 days later.
Q. YOU MENTIONED BEFORE SEEING THE AMOUNT OF CLUTTER, WHAT DOES CLUTTER HAVE TO DO WITH BED BUGS?
A. Clutter affords numerous harboring sites for bed bugs that can’t necessarily be treated. They’re inside accumulated clothes, magazines, books, and records – just junk in some cases. It creates environments that can’t be treated where bed bugs can hide and lay their eggs.
Q. AFTER YOU GO AND CLEAN OUT THE BED BUGS, DO THEY USUALLY COME BACK?
A. Well you can get infestation, you can treat it, and if you resolve the issue then it’s resolved. There are some habits which allow for more likely infestation. Some people tend to pick up stuff from the street, random things ranging from furniture to books to guitar cases. Obviously that’s going to be a practice that’s going to be problematic. In some cases getting things from second hand or pre-owned clothing stores, in some cases can also afford an introduction.
Q. WHAT WOULD BE PROBABLY ONE OF THE WORST INFESTATIONS YOU’VE SEEN?
A. Basically all of the worst infestations involve clutter issues. Where people have serious clutter or boarded on hoarders and issues like that, where there were baseline psychological issues as well.