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Moving and bed bugs

By • Dec 3rd, 2009 • Category: Bed Bugs, Consumer Help

Bed Bug Infestation I was taken back a little by an inquiry from a young gal asking which truck rental outfits or moving companies offered bed bug insurance.

The question isn’t all that surprising, however. In fact, in today’s mobile, global society, it’s actually more appropriate than most relocation professionals would think. More and more insurance companies are receiving the same types of inquiries about potential claims under their homeowners or rental insurance policies.

Bed bug infestations are on the rise in all types of residences worldwide – particularly in large metropolitan or densely populated, high traffic areas such as short lease hotels/motels and residence inns, condominium complexes, and apartment buildings. Colleges and universities (or any residence hall based housing) are particularly vulnerable because of the close community living arrangements, number of foreign visitors, and highly transient student population.

The problem has become so severe that some city health departments and institutions have established bed bug advisory boards and panels. Some large metropolitan areas like New York City now use bed bug sniffing dogs to quickly detect an infestation in public buildings and transportation resources.

NOTE: Be sure to check out the informative new articles and updated resources listed below. 


Bed Bug Central TV

According to Richard Cooper, an entomologist, the last big outbreak of bed bugs occurred just after WW II. That wave was controlled in the U.S., in part, by the wide spread use of pesticides such as DDT and Malathion. In late ‘90s, the problem with bed bugs began to reemerge in the United States, Canada, Australia, the UK, along with a number of other countries with the increased frequency of international travel.

Copper operates Bed Bug Central – a well organized, comprehensive website packed with all types of bed bug information, remediation suggestions and products for the public, and resources for the pest management industry.

moving and bed bugsBed bugs are great hitchhikers so it’s possible that a moving and storage or truck rental company, public or private storage facility, or mobile/portable container transportation service could harbor the pests. However, since bed bugs require a host to feed and thrive, it’s more likely that these types of moving services were used to transport them between one area of infestation to another.

There are several things you can do to protect your household goods, clothes and bedding from exposure to this pesky problem before your undertake any other pre-move arrangements:

  • If you currently have a bed bug problem, or will live someplace where infestations are known to occur frequently, take steps immediately to eradicate the problem. Ask your landlord, leasing agent, or building manager for assistance.
  • Thoroughly clean the areas where bugs or eggs may reside with hot, soapy water or high dry heat such as a hair dryer both before and after your move.
  • Vacuum all carpeted areas and mattresses several times very carefully. 
  • Encase your mattresses, box spring and all bedding in plastic. The products listed below are vent-free for maximum protection.
  • Use new cartons to pack freshly laundered clothes, bedding and pillows. If used packing material is obtained, line each carton with sealable plastic bags before filling.
  • For extreme infestations, a licensed pest management professional (exterminator) may be necessary.

Related Articles:

Using a personal bed bug detector when moving – RELO Roundtable

Bedbugs may play role in spread of drug-resistant bacteria MRSA, study finds - The Washington Post

How to move WITH bed bugs – RELO Roundtable

Movers participate in EPA’s National Bedbug Summit – RELO Roundtable

Moving? Cheap bed bug protection – RELO Roundtable

Bedbug Disclosure – Insurance Information Institute

What matters most when planning a move? – RELORoundtable

Bed bugs are back! – New York State Integrated Pest Management Program/ Cornell University

Bed Bug Fact Sheet – Cornell University Insect Diagnostic Laboratory

How to Move and Leave Bed Bugs Behind – Michigan Bed Bug Working Group

Stop Bed Bugs – New York City Department of Sanitation

Bedbug Lawsuits Growing – CNET TV (video)


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  • Bwilkins

    The uprising of bed bugs in the United States should be a legitimate concern to anyone who is using a moving service or rental vehicle when relocating. While it is unlikely that a moving truck can contain an active infestation they are perfect for these little “hitch hikers” to move from one home to the next.
    Since a bed bug infestation cannot be difinatively traced to a moving van, sans finding live bed bugs on the it, I believe it unlikely that an insurance company would pay a claim even if they included a “Bed Bug Rider” in their coverage. It is more likely that a moving customer would pick up the pests from a hotel or that thier new home might have bed bugs left behind by previous occupants than from the moving van.As a moving industry professional I would recommend that customers take a proactive approach in protecting their families from bed bugs (an other pests) during the moving process. The measures outlined in this article and others accross the web are a great starting point. Also ask a moving company or rental service consultant what sort of bed bug/pest control program they have in place. In most cases they will have none. Don’t be fooled by some slickster saying they spray or bomb the truck after  every move. That is most likely bull, besides, insecticides will only work if they are applied directly to the bug so it would be an exersize in futility to spray for bed bugs. Ask to inspect a moving companies facilities, as with individuals much can be learned about a company by visitng thier “home”. You will also be able to see what thier pest control measure are first hand.
    Some sites suggest that a bed bug can live up to a year without a meal. Good news is they cannot survive extremes in hot (over 120 degrees) or cold (sub freezing) so a vehicle left in these conditions long enough for the the entire truck and it’s equipment to reach those temperatures should be safe. As a note, moving vans contain moving pads (blankets) which are great insulators and may take days to reach the extreme temperatures needed to kill the little pests. Its logical to assume that these would be the most likely places for bed bugs and other pests to lie in wait since this is the equipment that goes into the house and is in direct contact with the last person’s goods. Rental companies will usually store thier pads/blankets inside when not in use which is an ideal place for a pest to hang out in wait for it’s next home.
    Another big area of concern is used boxes. Many moving companies  provide used containers to customers on request. There is absolutly NO WAY to ensure that a corrugated box used by another person does not contain bed bugs, body lice, fleas, cock roaches, silver fish, dry wood termites and countless other pests with the possible exception of placing the cartons in cold storage or a fumigation chamber operated by a licensed pest control company.Even if you line the container with plastic or other materials the box itself will be in your home.The probability of geting pests in this manner is low but the possibility exists.
    The best defense in protecting yourself from pests (and poor moving service) is a good offense: Research, investigate, examine, question, learn.