Some bugs can be nuisance, but others can result in infestations. Know your bugs if you live in an apartment.
The past few columns have been discussing the pros and cons of apartment life versus single-family homes when it comes to dealing with pests. Many large apartment complexes have regularly-scheduled pest control services to handle seasonal invaders like ants, spiders or stinging insects.
As successful as these treatments are, nothing can prepare you, or prevent you from getting your neighbors’ pests. Here are some facts to know about pest control in apartments.
Fleas can’t move next door
Probably the pest most falsely accused of moving from an adjacent apartment to another are fleas. I hear claims regularly of a neighbor’s flea infestation being shared. This is possible, but only under certain circumstances.
A quick refresher on fleas reminds us that adult fleas are permanent parasites on warm blooded hosts. They do not hop off and on, crawling around a room like ants or cockroaches. The fact an apartment might be totally infested, separated by just a wall or ceiling, is irrelevant.
The only way a true flea infestation can be spread is by a flea-plagued animal dropping eggs into your environment. Tenants, who share an open basement space or common hallways, are potential victims of the infested animal, assuming the animals also co-mingle. I would refer to these spaces, which contain all flea life stages (eggs, larvae and pupae) as truly infested.
These shared spaces are essentially an extension of the infested pet’s domain. Just like a primary living room or bedroom, walking through these areas will prompt pupae to hatch into adults, ready to share.
Carrying adult fleas into a room, without a primary host (dog, cat) to drop eggs, is not a real infestation. Humans are very poor hosts, easily brushing-off an adult. Without permanent residence on a host, fleas cannot mate and create a true infestation.
Bed bugs can move next door
While bed bugs can go months without a blood meal, they prefer to eat regularly. They can sense the carbon dioxide we emit from more than 75 feet away.
Once an apartment is vacated, the remaining pests start searching for their next nosh through electrical outlets, along duct work and shared plumbing lines. Not only does the empty apartment act as an infestation source, the furniture and possessions of the transient tenant are now relocated to another structure, to carry on the tradition of sharing.
Commonly, furniture left behind in a vacant apartment, is re-purposed by new or remaining tenants. The pests appreciate the “open door policy”, escalating the infestation.
Similarly, a pesticide application, in a single unit of many, will also frequently spread an infestation without precautionary treatments to the adjacent apartments. Repelled by the pesticides, the pests move along their utility highways throughout the building.
Sadly, many tenants are unaware of a pest issue by a fellow resident. Privacy and embarrassment usually prevail, and problems go unannounced.