A Rochester-based pest control company encountered bedbugs in 10 of the first 80 apartments it inspected on the upper floors of the Stonequist Apartments on Tuesday.
The Saratoga Springs Housing Authority hired Town and Country Pest Solutions to deal with an ongoing problem of bedbugs in the federally subsidized apartments.
“Bedbugs like to move up. They start at the bottom and go up,” said Caleb Fabry of Town and Country.
The pest control professionals started on the ninth floor of the 176-unit apartment building on South Federal Street and worked their way down. They expect to finish their inspection and insecticide application this afternoon.
“They are very personable. I’m happy with them,” said Edward Spychalski, the Housing Authority’s executive director.
The Housing Authority hired Town and Country from among six or seven pest control firms it considered because of the company’s experience with high-rise buildings.
The bedbug problem at the apartments surfaced last summer, and apartment residents and city officials criticized the Housing Authority for not moving faster to hire a professional exterminator.
Teresa Grocki, who lives on the sixth floor, was waiting in the Stonequist community room while her apartment was being inspected.
She observed some of the inspection and told the technicians where she had found bedbugs in the past.
Grocki was one of the residents who came to a City Council meeting in early December to tell the council about the bedbugs and what she said was a lack of action by the authority.
“I’m finding a different vibe, a more positive vibe,” she said about the attitude of Stonequist residents now that a professional firm is dealing with the bedbug issue.
Fabry conducted a 45-minute informational presentation to residents Tuesday morning in the community room. The Housing Authority is providing breakfast and lunch in the community room while the five technicians from Town and Country inspect apartments and apply pesticide to the units where bedbugs are found.
The residents have to stay out of their apartments for two hours during the inspection and application process.
The technicians use three different insecticides when they find bedbugs: diatomaceous earth, which cuts the bug’s body; pyrethrum, which comes from the chrysanthemum and attacks its nervous system; and silica dust, which sucks moisture out of the bug.
The contract between the Housing Authority and Town and Country calls for the authority to pay just less than $600 per apartment where bedbug infestations are found. The company is also charging $89 per unit to apply an insecticide barrier in all of the 176 apartments.
Fabry said his people will return in 30 days to inspect all of the apartments again and apply more insecticide where any bedbugs are found.
“We offer a six-month guarantee,” he said. There is no additional charge for inspections and any insecticide applications during the six months.
If all of the apartment units were found to have bedbugs, the cost would be $105,000, but the total seems likely to be much less, given the low percentage of infested apartments found Tuesday.
The bulk of Town and Country’s business is removing bedbugs, especially from high-rise buildings. “That’s just about all we do,” Fabry said.
He said finding bedbugs in just 10 out of 80 units is a “low number.” He said on jobs the company has done in New York City, the average is bedbugs in one of every four high-rise units.
Over the past year, Town and Country has removed bedbugs from 15,000 units. “In Syracuse we just did 3,000 units,” Fabry said.
Town and Country will provide the Housing Authority with a final report on how many units have bedbugs and what the total costs will be.
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