Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are biting; can Casper stop them?

2013-03-25T06:00:00Z 2013-11-02T19:41:38Z Bed bugs are biting; can Casper stop them?By BENJAMIN STORROW Star-Tribune feature writer Casper Star-Tribune Online

Christopher Stratton lives on the second floor at the Star Apartments. There is no artwork on his walls. He has no furniture, no bed. He sleeps on a military blanket and pillow on the floor. Since moving in on March 7, he claims he hasn’t had a good night’s sleep.

Stratton’s apartment is infested with bed bugs. Squished bodies of those he’s killed stick to his walls. Festering open wounds cover his arms. The outlines of old bite marks are still visible on his neck.

“They’re hungry little buggers, unfortunately,” he said, surveying the apartment. “Really, we didn’t want to bring anything in.”

Stratton has a girlfriend who lives at her grandparents’ in Casper. She has two children. They don’t bring them by the apartment.

“It’s hard to live that way,” he said. “It’s not an environment that anyone should live in.”

The number of reported bed bug cases in Casper is rising, according to the Casper-Natrona County Health Department. As Stratton’s case demonstrates, there is little the city can do about it.

Stratton reported his case to the Health Department after a visit to the emergency room Saturday. The department took his complaint and said it would be in touch with the apartment’s management. He was offered this recommendation: Leave the apartment and go to the Central Wyoming Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter.

A cook at McDonald’s who pays $600 a month to live at the Star Apartments, Stratton was insulted.

“I have a job. Being told I should go to a homeless shelter,” he said, “I’d rather see the problem fixed.”

John Drinnon, environmental health division director for the Health Department, called Stratton’s case “pretty alarming,” but said there was not much his department could do.

The Health Department has the authority to direct motels and hotels to eradicate bed bugs on their premises, but lacks such authority over residential buildings, Drinnon said. Health officials do not regularly inspect apartment complexes, as they do motels and hotels. Wyoming does not have housing regulations, meaning health officials cannot deliver directives to landlords, he said.

“We don’t have any authority to go into apartment complexes and issue citations because there are no citations to issue,” Drinnon said. “We wish we could do more for occupants, but again it takes an effort from both landlords and occupants” to get rid of bed bugs.

An exterminator needs to “bomb” each room in a building to effectively clear it of bed bugs, he said.

Bed bug reports have risen “significantly” in the past three years, though there are no official statistics for residential buildings, Drinnon said. Bed bugs are not considered reportable; as a result, they are not reported incidents and are not counted, state and local officials said.

The issue is one that needs to be addressed, Drinnon said. “It is a major nuisance in the community,” he said. “The time is probably right for housing regulations.”

Housing regulations are different from the building code, which covers structural issues. Common in other states, they outline health and safety standards, Drinnon said.

Stratton did not inform the Star Apartments of the infestation before going to the Health Department. He said he could not find the apartment’s manager, Lawrence Wayne Ridgeway, last week because he was in jail.

In an interview Thursday, Ridgeway said he did spend five days in jail last week. But he said no one in the apartment or from the city had informed him about an infestation of bed bugs in the building. He said he left clear instructions on his door to contact the apartment’s other employees in case a tenant needed something.

The apartments have had one reported case of bed bugs in the past, Ridgeway said. He “bombed the apartment” as well as the two adjoining units, he said. If a tenant came to him with a similar report, “we would take care of it,” he said.

Stratton holds out a sliver of hope that the issue will be resolved and he can stay at the apartments. But he is also looking for other housing options in Casper. That’s a challenging task. There were 91 open rental units out of 5,580 in Casper at the end of 2012, according to the Wyoming Community Development Authority.

Meanwhile, he’ll continue to sleep where he has.

“Where else do I have to go?” he asked.

Reach Benjamin Storrow at 307-266-0535 or Follow him on Twitter @bstorrow.

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(19) Comments

  1. Anthony Tolbert
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    Anthony Tolbert - October 22, 2014 1:59 pm
    GMOs really are doing are a great job and they have to make a farmers life secure but what about corns. Thanks for sharing this post with us. Its your house, not their's so it is important to take these bugs out of you house.
  2. Davis Smith
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    Davis Smith - October 29, 2013 3:16 am
    Bed bugs is the major problem from which one should be away as soon as possible, Casper can be the one way to make them away but also hire services from pest control company.
  3. Davis Smith
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    Davis Smith - October 18, 2013 11:18 pm
    Its amazing, looking at the time and effort you put into your blog and detailed information you provide. I'll bookmark your blog and visit it weekly for your new posts.

  4. Derek Smith
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    Derek Smith - July 12, 2013 5:08 am
    How great it would be if every owner is compulsory asked to get Pest Free Certificate from Pest Control Company before selling or giving it for rent. Being an Exterminator I know this will bloom pest control business but at least people will not suffer. Many people opt DIY (Do it yourself) method to deal with bed bugs. But trust me without knowledge about them you cannot get rid of it. So leave those things to professional like us. I always keep on giving suggestions to avoid bed bugs, but people don't bother to follow. And at the end I say people themselves are responsible for infestation. Here is few article resource of bed bug which can be helpful to know more about bed bugs.

  5. Zech
    Report Abuse
    Zech - May 17, 2013 1:21 pm
    My girlfriend and I live in the Apartments 1 block down the road from the star apartments at 227 North Beech and now our apartment complex is infested with bed bugs. This was confirmed by Terminix. CSI Realty is the company who manages these complexes. They are trying to blame this infestation on my girlfriend and I. Nobody we know has bed bugs and we ALWAYS keep our apartment clean. So far CSI Realty has not done anything about this infestation and are extremely rude!!! Do not rent or buy anything from these people, since the first time we have had to deal with this company they have been rude and condescending.
  6. julz74
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    julz74 - March 30, 2013 11:12 pm
    My nephew and his girlfriend and their 2 kids lived there for a short time. They have cockroaches also. They have no smoke detectors in the apartments. They had to throw away their furniture after living there. I wish there was some way to close them down until they clean them up.
  7. CHA
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    CHA - March 27, 2013 3:22 pm
    This is very sad for all involved. As the Executive Director of the Casper Housing Authority, please let me make it very clear that this is not a Housing Authority property and the rents are NOT subsidized by HUD. We have 599 families placed in Casper, however, there are no Housing Authority tenants in the Star Apartments. This is a privately owned facility. CHA has recently experienced a change in leadership and we are working diligently on a new plan to provide additional low income housing to the Casper community. Thank you all for your concern and please feel free to visit our facebook page - Casper Housing Authority - or contact our office for more information.
  8. sober21
    Report Abuse
    sober21 - March 26, 2013 10:41 pm
    Dhillons at the I-25 Inn had some extra bugs that they decided to share with the Star Apts. What a kind thought.
  9. AmberV
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    AmberV - March 26, 2013 10:07 am
    This is ridicilous! Someone needs to be regulating these slum-lords. I feel sorry for this guy. I can't believe he is paying $600/month for that dump. I know we had a shortage of rental units but I never in a million years imagined that place would be charging more than $200/month. Unfortunately, people have no other choice and that is just terrible. If you want to rent a decent apartment you are going to pay good money for it. I have a brand new 3 bedroom apt. and am paying $1400/month plus utilities. Casper desperately needs more rental housing. Someone needs to come in and offer clean, safe, affordable living and put these slum-lords out of business.
  10. Sassy
    Report Abuse
    Sassy - March 26, 2013 9:51 am
    Come ON dont take it out on the tenant- he appears to be a hard worker. If the county/city can beat up the poverty store- they can influence the building owner to do the right thing
  11. Sassy
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    Sassy - March 26, 2013 9:30 am
    Come dont take it out on the tenant- he appears to be a hard worker. If the county/city can beat up the poverty store- they can influence the building owner to do the right thing
  12. sam_holiman
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    sam_holiman - March 25, 2013 2:30 pm
    The landlord is an idiot. I am Strattons gf and I know how bad the apartment is which is why me and my children never moved in
  13. ers
    Report Abuse
    ers - March 25, 2013 10:32 am
    I find it alarming that Smoke Free Casper has taken steps to outlaw the use of a LEGAL product by adults in ADULT places but the poor of Casper, along with their CHILDREN are forced to live in bug infested quarters. I thought Smoke Free wanted to protect CHILDREN from unhealthy environments? Oh that's right we are talking about POOR people!
  14. carlover
    Report Abuse
    carlover - March 25, 2013 10:10 am
    i hear peppermint around the house helps and you can call terminex too, but unless they do each apartment it will retrun in no time. the aparment complex should pay for monthly termix sparys until they are gone. this would be the right thing to do. they get their money from the government for this substidzed housing, and very good money at that. and should be held responsible for any costs . we all know hud housing gets alot of cash weather there are rented or not.
  15. yup
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    yup - March 25, 2013 9:49 am
    Bed bug infested cooks...yet another reason to stay away from McDonalds!
  16. steveklein
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    steveklein - March 25, 2013 7:56 am
    1.) Launder all sheets / comforter / etc.
    2.) Seal mattress and box spring in covers -- such covers are available online via rush shipping.
    3.) Elevate mattress and box spring on a bedframe immediately after sealing.
    4.) Place traps below each leg of the bedframe -- also available online.
    5.) Keep frame away from the wall; do not let sheets / blanket touch the ground.

    This setup cost me around $200. Not cheap, but cheaper than fumigating ("bombing" an apartment usually does not work), and it's the most effective method. Never had a problem since. Bedbugs are sneaky, but can be outsmarted. The ones sealed away die after about a year (!!!).
  17. mr
    Report Abuse
    mr - March 25, 2013 7:15 am
    The building manager was in jail. That place is 90% burned out methamphetamine users. I do feel sorry for the folks who move in there from out of town . They move out quickly . Thieving dope heads live in the star apartments
  18. mr
    Report Abuse
    mr - March 25, 2013 7:11 am
    The star apartments aren't worth 250 a month. Let alone 600. No credit and not a decent income. Then you get eaten by bed bugs. It's as simple as that.
  19. Micky
    Report Abuse
    Micky - March 25, 2013 6:22 am
    Hopefully, the Landlord is humane enough to take care of the problem in their apartments. If it's in one, it's probably spreading to others. That is just nasty!
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