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Recent Research Reveals Bed Bug Mobility

With a name like bed bugs, one might think these pests are likely to stay tucked in for a good night’s sleep. But a recent study conducted by Rutgers University uncovered the truth about how mobile these pests are – and the results have interesting implications for multifamily property managers.

The study exposed significant movement of bed bugs within and between apartments over the course of 32 days. Marked bed bugs were released in six original units and then recaptured periodically. Observing the population changes in the original apartments and 24 neighboring units, researchers found bed bugs in five of six apartments adjacent to the original location. This means that in approximately a months’ time, bed bugs made major moves.

For bugs whose name associates them with sleep, bed bugs are impressive movers. In laboratory conditions, they traveled 4.9 meters in five minutes. Researchers also observed that bed bugs moved up to 2.5 meters a day between hosts and resting locations within a unit.

Beyond movement, researchers uncovered how forgoing meals affects bed bug survival. Their findings indicate that bed bugs are resilient without regular access to hosts. Adult bed bugs and large nymphs were found alive at 155 days, while small nymphs survived more than 134 days. So vacant apartments aren’t actually immune to bed bugs. Vacant units adjacent to an infestation are at an even higher risk due to bed bug movement and their resistance to starvation.

For multifamily property managers, this means a bed bug sighting must be addressed swiftly and thoroughly—before it gets out of hand. Even though a pest sighting may not always turn out to be bed bugs, it’s best to consult a commercial pest control expert to correctly identify the pest. If bed bugs are positively identified, it’s crucial to address not only the affected unit, but also those next door, above and below to ensure that the infestation doesn’t spread. For more on best practices for bed bugs and multifamily environments, visit www.bedbugbusinessplan.com and download our brand new e-book.

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