Bed Bugs in a Kitchen Not Very Likely

By Chris Williams on December 15, 2014.

I recently had 4 live bugs found in my kitchen entry that were confirmed as bed bugs. The pest control people did not inspect my apartment, they just did a heat treatment and drilled holes. There were no signs of bed bugs in other rooms or beds and no one has been bitten. The apartment property is making me pay for the treatment. What can I do?

magnification of bed bug faceMy first question is, who did the pest identification and confirmed that they were bed bugs? I question whether the bugs were really bed bugs for the following reasons:

(1) They’re Called Bed Bugs for a Reason

A kitchen is not a normal place to find bed bugs.Unlike cockroaches, bed bugs don’t feed on people food, they feed on people. Consequently, bed bugs are found in or near beds or other areas where people relax or sleep such as sofas and recliners. I can only think of very unusual circumstances where multiple bed bugs would be found in a kitchen.

You don’t say whether you found the bugs or whether they were found by a pest control company or your property’s maintenance staff. The only way that I can envision finding four bed bugs in a kitchen entry is if they were just carried into your apartment on grocery bags, tote bags, belongings, or a person — all of which seem unlikely.

If an apartment building has a heavy bed bug infestation, bed bugs can sometimes walk down hallways and enter apartments under doors, but it’s not likely that four bed bugs would do that at the same time. If an apartment has a very heavy bed bug infestation, some bugs could be forced out of the bedrooms and other crowded areas into a kitchen, but it seems clear that your apartment does not have a heavy bed bug infestation.

(2) You Have to Hunt for Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are not normally found out in the open. Bed bugs hide during the day in cracks and crevices and come out at night to feed. Their ability to hide is one reason why they are so successful and hard to control. Finding one bed bug wandering around a kitchen in the open would be unusual, finding four at the same time would be highly unusual.

If a pest control company was involved and did not inspect before treating your apartment for bed bugs, that is inexcusable. A professional bed bug treatment is only necessary when an inspector confirms that bed bugs are actually infesting your residence. It seems possible that the bugs found in your kitchen were misidentified and were not bed bugs at all. If they were bed bugs, then it seems, from your description, that the treatment of your apartment might have been mishandled.

Some exterminating companies will do heat treatments for bed bugs. The drilling of holes could have been preliminary to injecting insecticide dust into wall voids, a valid treatment but one not commonly used for a low level infestation.

In most states, it is the responsibility of the landlord, and not the tenant, to arrange and pay for extermination of bed bugs, although there are exceptions. I’m not sure what you can do about the situation at this point, especially if you no longer have the bugs in question. You could perhaps take the issue to a landlord/tenant board. Or you could contact your State’s Department of Agriculture or the agency that regulates pest control companies (if a company did the treatment), to see if there was an insecticide misapplication.

Photo credit: Gilles San Martin / Foter / CC BY-SA

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