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Pest management

Controlling and preventing bedbugs

The Seattle Housing Authority continues to respond to increased reports of bedbugs in some of the 4,500 rental units it manages and rents to low-income residents in Seattle. The housing authority recognizes that this is a serious issue that affects the lives of its tenants in considerable ways. The following information is provided to help residents understand how to prevent and control the problem.

About bedbugs

Bedbug

Adult bedbugs are typically a brownish-reddish color and 3/16 inch in diameter.

Bedbug

Actual size of a bedbug

  • Bedbugs are tiny insects that puncture human skin to feed on blood, not unlike mosquitos.
  • Adults measure about 3/16  inch in diameter, and look in size and color like a small apple seed with legs.
  • They only come out to feed late at night when people are asleep.
  • Their favorite hiding and breeding places are the folds and crevices of mattresses and box springs.
  • They hide in many tight, dark places, like baseboards, between couch cushions, under piles of clothing or even in the spaces between the corrugations of cardboard boxes.
  • They can live for many months without a meal.
  • A single female can lay 5-7 eggs after each feeding.
  • For more: Top ten bedbug facts you should know (PDF)
  • Think you might have bedbugs? Learn what to look for (PDF)

Controlling the problem

Follow these steps to prevent bedbugs or to control the problem if you have already encountered them.

Bedbug trap

Bedbug traps similar to this were installed on beds throughout Denny Terrace.

  • Report bed bug activity to your property manager and cooperate with Pest Control treatments. Click here to find your property manager's contact information. Learning how to recognize bedbug activity and promptly calling for treatment is important for residents so that small numbers of bedbugs don’t expand into a bigger problem that is much harder to treat and can affect neighbors and the rest of the building. "Do it yourself" products or remedies are no replacement for the methods used by professional pest controllers, and can just make matters worse by scattering rather than eliminating bedbugs.
  • Install a special cover over your mattress to trap any bedbugs that are living inside and prevent them from biting. The covers will not only kill those already present, but they are also designed to eliminate seams and crevices where bedbugs commonly nest. If it has been determined that you have a bedbug problem in your unit, Seattle Housing Authority will provide these covers when your apartment is treated.
  • Make sure your bed is raised off the ground, on a bed frame, for example.
  • Install a special trap under each bed frame leg to stop bedbugs from crawling up to feed. If it has been determined that you have a bedbug problem in your unit, Seattle Housing Authority will provide these traps when your apartment is treated. As part of a proactive program of early bedbug detection, the agency is offering these devices to all residents in Low Income Public Housing high-rises.
  • Eliminate their hiding places. Their favorite hiding and breeding places are in beds, but they also hide in many other tight, dark places – behind furniture, between couch cushions, under piles of clothing or even in the spaces between the corrugations of cardboard boxes.
  • Arrange your apartment to cut back on potential hiding places. The ways some people store their possessions and arrange their apartments can provide places for bedbugs to hide, especially in the compact spaces offered in most Housing Authority apartments. If items are piled high or there are areas that remain undisturbed for a long time, bedbugs can find the places they need to multiply, out of reach of pest control treatments. To help residents organize, rearrange or dispose of excess items, as well as install bed frames and mattress covers, the Seattle Housing Authority is working to provide helpers and other assistance to residents who need it.

Helpful links

For more information on preventing and controlling the spread of bedbugs, follow these links: