Cockroaches, rats, fleas and bedbugs can make your skin crawl, but an infestation can often be prevented, or treated over time.
In the City of Hornell, the Codes Office is alerting landlords to know who and what is inhabiting their rental properties, in order to keep infestations from spreading to neighboring properties.
“Many landlords are not accessing their properties regularly to do things like inspect for pests, change smoke detector batteries and do routine maintenance,” said Bud Burdett. “There should be something in the lease stating that they need to access the property every month.”
Other landlords go unaware of problems because they are not notified by residents, who simply choose to live with the pests.
“It’s so common to see people live like that,” Burdett said.
Earlier this week, a cockroach infestation unnerved Platt Street residents in Hornell, who say they’re moving out after roaches took over a vacant, adjacent property over the last month.
“We first noticed them crawling up the side of the building, as high as the roof, in broad daylight,” said renter Christina Dodge. “I had found one in my coffee cup ... I keep a pretty clean house because my daughter has health issues.”
Soon, they appeared in their apartment building.
They and other neighbors had made complaints to the Hornell City Codes Office. Other neighbors decided not to speak on the record about their roach problems.
“We’re going to have to throw out 75 percent of our stuff,” they said. “I’m going to have to take a sifter to my mother’s ashes to make sure there’s no bugs in them.”
The tenants said that they plan to take civil action to recoup their losses.
On Wednesday, Andy Smith of Maple City Pest Control said that the property and several around it had been treated, and the situation “resolved.”
Smith urged renters and landlords get on the same page about having regular inspections.
While cockroaches are a classic pest control issue, Smith warned that bedbugs are “far worse,” especially in the summer months when people are prone to purchasing or picking up used furniture discarded at the curb.
Blood stained sheets, bed skirts, bed frames, baseboards, outlets and curtains are often tell-tale signs that there’s a problem, and it’s usually not long until an emerging problem becomes a full-scale problem.
“They can reproduce quickly,” the pest control specialist said. A female with eggs can produce 20-40 nymphs at a time. “In six months you can have a full infestation really.”
Simply throwing out infested items like beds and furniture are not a solution. Most cases require whole-house treatment.
“If you miss just one bug, it’s over,” he said. “It’s going to happen again.”
Bed bugs can also be picked up by people returning from vacation, without knowing. According to Smith, it’s best to keep your suitcases away from the bed on vacation to minimize your risk, keeping them instead by the door, or even in the tub or shower. Bed bugs can survive for up to a year without feeding.
Some landlords are working with pest control specialists to schedule inspections before and after new tenants move in or out, which can help curb the problem.
However, some people choose to live with bedbugs and roaches.
“You would be surprised how many people will live with them ... People just don’t call because they can’t afford it, can’t get their landlord to pay for it, or are too embarrassed to tell anyone,” Smith said.
Smith often charges $600 for a bed bug mitigation.
Despite best efforts, there is no such thing as an overnight solution. It often takes a month for pests to contact the chemical and die.
“The problem didn’t accumulate overnight, and I can’t fix it overnight. No one can,” Smith said.