Originally sourced from Watertown Daily Times
CARTHAGE — A local housing authority found a unique way to curb the bedbug problem.
Following an outbreak of bedbugs in the Long Falls Apartments last year, the Town of Wilna Housing Authority, which oversees the Department of Housing and Urban Development complex, established a preventive program to lessen the chance of a reoccurrence.
The housing authority contracted with Orkin of Utica to use K-9 Bedbug Detection Services of Mount Pleasant, Pa. Every other month a pair of beagles inspect the 100 units and the common areas to sniff out the parasites. The detection service makes use of National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association trained dogs, which, according to the company’s literature, can “detect as little as one live bedbug or viable egg.”
Kelly E. Bush, executive director of the housing authority, said it is starting its second year with the service and has had only a couple of small reoccurrences.
“We were able to deal with it immediately so it didn’t become a problem,” said Mrs. Bush. “It’s not an option to not have some kind of preventive program — we can’t go back to that again.”
She said when the infestation occurred the housing authority took drastic measures to remedy the situation. It spent $70,000 to treat 60 of the 100 units — taking measures in the apartments where the bugs were discovered as well as the neighboring apartments on either side as well as above and below. The areas were treated twice to ensure the bugs were destroyed.
“We found the bedbugs were going through the cable chases throughout the building so we treated all 100 of them, also,” said the executive director.
In addition, the housing authority provided a large trash container for disposal, free of charge, of infested furniture and other items.
It also removed the coin boxes from the communal washers and dryers so tenants could cleanse clothing and linens to rid them of the bugs. Tenants have also been provided with free encasements for mattresses and box springs. The staff has worked to educate the tenants about safe practices.
“Bedbugs can be transferred just by a visitor sitting on a tenant’s couch,” said the director. “They can come in on used furniture, used clothing or on bags or boxes.”
Prior to the initial treatment, a tenants’ meeting was held with representatives of the pest control company.
“The key to the success of the program has been the tenants understanding the situation and cooperating,” said Mrs. Bush. “The tenants have been phenomenal — we have worked together. It has been an combined effort. Now, we inspect all used furniture prior to coming into an apartment.”
She noted sometimes tenants become complacent and forget to inform the staff of bringing in used furniture which has led to the reoccurrences.
She said the contract fee which was $18,000 the first year and went down to $17,000 for the coming year includes the K-9 inspections and double treatments when infestation is detected.
“It’s well worth the money,” said the director.
According to the director, the Town of Wilna Housing Authority is the only one in the tri-county area that utilizes the canine program."