Austin M. Frishman, Ph.D.
Once bed bugs move into a city or rural area, they don’t go away. The same accounts are often re-infested, enabling pest management professionals (PMPs) to concentrate on an ongoing maintenance program once the initial bed bug population is eliminated.
Commercial accounts tend to convert to preventive pest management to help reduce the liability from lawsuits. In 2019, Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty reported a significant percentage of all animal-related insurance claims originated with bed bug incidents, such as bites and infestations. Bed bug claims were the fifth cause of animal-related liability. In many of these claims, the PMP became the third party.
As you evaluate your bed bug program, ask yourself if you:
- Explain what your complete bed bug management program is?
- Have a signed form indicating the client read your management program?
- Have additional steps to take if the situation continues to persist?
- Monitor areas once bed bugs are eliminated?
- Explain what the client is supposed to expect within a certain amount of time?
- Have a list of steps the client can take to help themselves using non-pesticidal measures, such as protective covers on mattresses or box springs?
Within the last five years or so, the public has become more aware of what to do with a bed bug infestation. Bed bug dogs, bed bug monitors, the use of heat and new bed bug materials are helping to give PMPs the upper hand. The hospitality industry is also taking it seriously and reacting much faster than in the past.
Most reoccurrences with bed bugs now happen in very targeted areas because the original treatment missed a small pocket of bed bugs. Here are a few locations in which I’ve found them after several visits and treatments:
- In the client's vehicle
- At work (example: they worked in an infested office)
- In the laptop a child took to school and brought home every day
- In a blanket
- Behind a bedroom baseboard with a carpeted floor (the baseboard had to be removed to find them)
- In bedroom curtain rods
- In the living room couch
Syngenta has a few different products available that are excellent for bed bug management, including Tandem® and Demand® CS insecticides. These products can provide effective control once you seek out the source. You must place the material where the bed bugs rest or on surfaces where they walk, according to label directions.
Remember, as additional information is accrued on human health risks from bed bugs, the level of concern and expectation from the client may rise. Combined with easy internet access, a client can, in a matter of minutes, compile a wealth of information on why their claim to be bed bug free is valid and worthy (in their mind) of a lawsuit. Hopefully, this information can help increase your success rate and eliminate bed bug lawsuits.
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