This month’s EcoRaider Interview is with Robert Landry, Executive Director of the Glens Falls Housing Authority. Situated on the eastern edge of New York, Glens Falls is about 60 minutes north of Albany and three hours north of Manhattan.
ECO: How much of a problem are bed bugs?
RL: They’re a big problem and in many cases everyone has the wrong impression of what bed bugs are. If you have bed bugs in the building everyone panics and in the community they decide they aren’t sending their mom or their dad to that specific senior housing facility. So there’s an overreaction and then the second problem is prevention. You can’t control where people go when they leave your buildings. It’s very easy to feel you’ve eradicated all of the bed bugs and we’ve come to the conclusion as long as we provide education and detection that’s the best we can do. That’s what everyone does and that’s how you control bed bugs but just having them is a black eye that we all in this industry have to deal with.
ECO: How did bed bugs first become a problem for you?
RL: Originally we hired a heat guy and that blew them throughout the building. So we put up a gallant battle and once we got them under control, our staff started using detection devices and monitors and we developed a plan where our maintenance people were checking for bed bugs more often. Do we still have bed bugs time to time? Absolutely. Do we still have hysteria in the building? Absolutely not. It cost us a lot of money in the beginning but I think we have a good plan and program in place.
ECO: How did you hear of EcoRaider?
RL: A friend of mine in New York City has a pest control company and he gave me a lot of suggestions and he said to get EcoRaider until the exterminating company can get here since we aren’t in the middle of a big city. That has really worked and helped kill the bed bugs quickly. We’ve also used your enewsletter to help educate our tenants to show them we have a protocol in place and that EcoRaider is a part of it. We have some used high capacity dryers now so we can take items to a special place to heat their clothes to eradicate bed bugs.
ECO: Where are most of the bed bugs found?
RL: The largest infestation was in the bedroom, second would be the living room area in most cases. The majority of bed bugs were found in bedrooms though and on whatever piece of furniture the residents frequent the most.
ECO: Are there any trends regarding bed bugs?
RL: The trend that I’ve found is that bed bugs have been coming from primarily our active tenants who go out in the community every day rather than those who just go to the grocery store, for example. So we’ve sat down with those who frequent social clubs and those who frequent facilities that provide mental health services because both have people coming and going from areas that may have no pest management.
ECO: Do you use encasements?
RL: Yes. It’s been hard to tell if just one thing is effective so we regularly monitor and treat quickly. It’s been hard to say that works well but from everyone we talk to it encasements seem to be a good thing. Our protocol is about quick inspections and responding quickly to a bed bug – we provide large bags for mattresses and box springs and furniture so we can do what we can to control any further spreading of the problem.
ECO: How important is it to have a Green or Natural bed bug solution?
RL: It’s big to us and we’re tree huggers so we’re environment by nature. It’s also a protocol that we bid that out every three years that they use chemicals that are environmentally friendly. We attempt to do that with everything we do and that’s why EcoRaider is good as a green product. The reason we do that is because senior citizens don’t want us to spray a bunch of chemicals so we go out of our way to provide a green solution.
ECO: How have you used EcoRaider?
RL: If we have bed bugs then our guys can take EcoRaider and they can spray a little around if there’s been traffic to kill the bed bugs immediately. We’ll put a little here or there as a preventative product too.
ECO: Is having a product that’s preventative important?
RL: Yes absolutely. To me it’s top of the list. We are now proactive and looking for problems to solve them immediately and if someone has seen a bed bug there’s a good possibility if we get in there we might be able to isolate the location quickly and rather than wait two days to get someone in there to see them we can take care of it immediately.
ECO: What advice would you give to a peer who handles bed bug situations at another housing authority?
RL: To remember that it’s not a disaster but you do have to have a bed bug plan before you have a bed bug outbreak. Educate tenants, have a protocol plan and I think that’s what we all can do. Housing authorities are tremendously underfunded but we can still do the job. To me having a plan in place is the key because bed bugs can be very costly if you approach the problem wrong.