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The daytime high temperatures at the end of June to early July were topping out at close to 110° F in Cathedral City, California. And it was windy. The day before the job ended the fumigation team saw the sign. It was a simple thank-you note, but a huge pick-me-up for a hot and tired Quality Pest Services fumigation team.
“We had just taken down 350,000 cubes and were getting ready to put up the final 300,000 when we saw the note,” says Bernie Gonzalez, Inland Empire branch manager for Quality Pest Services. “One of the tenants had taped it to their window. Someone felt we were really busting it for them because it was so hot. Some tenants thanked us as they walked by, but seeing that note on the window was so motivating. We took a picture of the sign and sent it to our managers group. Fumigation is hard work, and whether it’s windy or rain or shine, it’s our job to kill the bugs. So it’s nice to be appreciated.”
What made the tenants so appreciative was the relief this fumigation service was providing in eliminating one of the worst bed bug infestations Gonzalez has seen in over 18 years in the business.
The site was a low-income senior housing community that served both independent and assisted-living tenants. Its 30 single-story buildings totaled 1.6 million cubic feet. Newman Pest Control, Cathedral City, was the prime contractor and set up the fumigation with the community’s management company. Quality Pest Services tackled the job in six phases of about 300,000 cubic feet per phase. The fumigation crew would clear a phase on the third day in the morning, then start the next phase the same afternoon.
“People would come out and ask if we were there to treat their unit,” Gonzalez says. “Most of the units were infested and the people were being bitten real badly. When we finished a building, you would see lots of dead bed bugs on the beds and on the floors.”
The hot weather significantly reduced the fumigant needed, and despite the gusty winds, the crews achieved a good seal by using extra clips and sand bags around the base and on the roof.
“There were really no surprises on the job,” he adds. “We used the FumigationFacts.com website to show tenants how to prepare, but some of the elderly could not do the prep work, so we bagged everything in those units. The management company had some people onsite and they helped.
To help prevent taking bed bugs out and re-introducing them upon return, Newman Pest Control rented a container and Quality Pest Services fumigated the tenants’ clothing they would wear when they vacated their units. The bedbug-free clothing was taken to the hotel with the tenants. After units were fumigated, Newman also applied residual insecticide treatments.
Gonzalez manages his company’s Inland Empire branch, one of five locations that service Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
“Our company has 20 fumigation trucks and my office has four. Residential fumigations for termites accounts for 90% of our work, but the number of bed bug jobs has continued to increase since about 2012.”