BC Housing Losing Bed Bug Battle

Today’s Vancouver Sun stated 43 out of 49 lower mainland BC Housing sites have battled bed bugs in the last year.  88% is a high percentage and surely indicates who is winning the war and it is not the residents in BC Housing developments.

Numerous clues as to why BC Housing is losing the battle may be gleamed from the 4-step “Bed Bug Information” poster on the BC Housing web site – a poster directed at the vulnerable BC Housing residents.

(Click on the poster image to view details)

Clues or Clueless?

  • The poster title “Bed Bug Information” is flanked by two insect graphics - of stink bugs; not bed bugs.
stink bug and bed bug copy.jpg

Compare to the insect graphics in the title of the poster

  • Under “Bed bugs look like” there are two photos of bed bugs.  The insects are so small it would be difficult to match an insect to the picture.   The poster does not show bed bug eggs or the 5 instar development stages of a bed bug nymph (juvenile) – this complete life cycle overview is missing.
  • Two common internet pictures depict bed bug bite marks.  It is commonly recognized one cannot identify a bed bug infestation from bites.  The bite mark is an allergic reaction and everyone differs in their response – others show no reaction because they are not allergic and never know they have been bitten.
  • Step 1 calls to “Check your BED and FURNITURE…FLOOR…CLOTHING”.  Bed bugs are masters at hiding – in the crevices between floorboards, behind baseboards, in the undersides and corners of furniture, in the screw heads of your bed frame, etc.  Not all residents are capable of doing a thorough examination and run the risk of disturbing and dispersing the bugs.
  • Instructions to search for the more common signs of bed bugs, e.g. bed bug eggs, cast skins or fecal stains is missing.
  • Step 2 asks the reader to “CALL your building manager … Tell him/her that you FOUND bed bugs”.  Better to call your manager and ‘Show them the bug’.  Physical evidence is necessary for professional identification. 
  • Step 3 states:  “KILL the bed bugs”.  It implies the reader is to kill the bed bugs, yet there is no mention of how to kill them.  DIY (do-it-yourself) approaches often disperse the infestation, increasing the time and cost to control the pest.
  • Step 3 continues with instructions to:  “WASH all your clothes”.  A cold water wash, may drown a few bed bugs but it will not kill the eggs.  Only heat will result in a 100% kill rate, specifically water above 60° C.  The dryer is more effective than the washing machine – 30 minutes on high is preferable.
  • Step 3 then instructs to “Prepare for a PEST Treatment” in your home.  Prepare how?  Discard items? Disposing of infected items incorrectly will disperse the pest. Wash, vacuum, steam everything in site?   A professional pest control operator would confirm a bed bug infestation before requesting remediation preparations.
  • Note the  dust pan and broom picture on the right - a broom will easily disperse the nymphs through the sweeping action; even a vacuum is limited as bed bugs can hold on against the suction forces from inside their crevices and eggs are 'glued' in place.
  • Step 3 continues:  “COVER your bed with a vinyl bed cover”. This should read – ‘encase your mattress and box spring ‘.  There are laboratory tested mattress encasements, when used according to the manufacturer’s instructions, will not allow bed bugs to escape nor bite through the encasement; in effect, entombing any live bed bugs and starving them to death.  A DIY approach of vinyl and duct tape may not be effective as the vinyl may rip and/or the tape let go and two, the folds in the plastic will provide additional harbourages for more bed bugs to multiply.

Too Little, Too Late

The poster ends with “Step 4:  STOP the spread of bed bugs.  DO NOT bring found items into your home” – good advice, albeit too little, too late.

The file name for the poster is dated April 2010 and this section of the website lists the last update as 12 May 11.  Has this misinformation been on line all this time?  How do vulnerable BC Housing residents have a chance to win against bed bugs if those responsible mislead them? 


on 2011-11-09 02:39 by Bedbugmutts

The Vancouver Sun link to the initial story by Evan Duggan has been removed from the Vancouver Sun website.  Another link, to the same story, via Global BC (Shaw Media Inc.) has been added to the Reference section below.


on 2011-11-13 15:45 by Bedbugmutts

BC Housing is not the only entity that has misidentified bed bugs. yesterday, TMZ released a report of XFactor competitors claiming:  "they were nearly eaten alive at their L.A. hotel this week...after a swarm of bloodthirsty bed bugs feasted on their flesh".  Unfortunately the accompanying photo is a TMZ composite of various insects - and not one is a bed bug. If you want more examples, here is a link, courtesy of bedbugger.com of further examples from CBS, ABC and NBC ... sure makes it hard for the average person to learn about bed bugs.  More examples why BC needs a bed bug task force.


on 2013-09-13

 BC Housing did eventually remove the poster download from their site. Unfortunately the remaining two dowloads are a number of years old and do not appear to have been updated.