According to statistics from the National Pest Management Association, bed bugs are on
the rise in America, having increased 500 percent over the last three years. Consequently,
hotels have become as proactive as possible in identifying infestations.
Bed Bug Growth in America
• 19 percent more pest elimination companies responded to bed bug calls in February 2004 than July 2003;
• Bed bug cases were reported in 40 states through February 2004;
• Ecolab Pest Elimination reports a 300 percent increase in bed bug service calls in the past five years.
• Ecolab has received more service calls in the first eight months of 2004 than in all of 2003.
• Pest control companies have been reporting the infestations not only in hotels, but in multi-family housing, apartments, and hospitals.
Bed Bugs: What Are They?
• Blood-feeding insects;
• Light-tan in color, turning dark-red or brown after feeding;
• About 1/4 inch long, flattened before feeding and swollen afterward;
• Easy to see with the naked eye, but difficult to find while hiding;
• Feed once a week on a sleeper’s exposed skin for several minutes at a time;
• Bites are painless and not felt by most people, but could leave a hard bump with a whitish center that can itch for many days;
• Parasites, but there is NO evidence they spread disease like other parasites;
• Able to survive up to 10 months between blood meals if necessary;
• Attracted to carbon dioxide and body heat;
• Able to lay up to 500 eggs in one lifetime;
• Able to repopulate themselves and re-infest a room in just three to four months;
• Extremely mobile, can hide just about anywhere and be carried in anything;
• Create a sickly, sweet smell in an infested room;
• Can hide almost anywhere, including in upholstered furniture nightstands, headboards, bedding, lamps, picture frames and luggage.
• May also be found in unexpected places, like the telephone, behind electrical switch plates, under carpet edges or carpeting, light fixtures, housekeeping carts and folds of draperies or curtains.
A History of Bed bugs
• Pestered humans since pre-historic times;
• Many species found in the United States – human bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) is the most common;
• Mostly eradicated in the U.S. around World War II;
• Boomed in numbers within the last five years due to increased international travel, and less use of strong pest-killing products that controlled bed bugs for years.
As a guest:
• When returning from a trip, check your luggage and clothing.
• Vacuum suitcases after returning from a vacation.
• Check your bedsheets for tell-tale blood spots.
• If bed bug activity is discovered or suspected in your guestroom, contact the front desk immediately. The room will be put out of service until a pest elimination expert certifies it to be pest free.
The best prevention is daily inspection. Hotel staff should inspect rooms for bed bug activity every day by inspecting:
- guest room linens.
-mattress and box spring seams.
• Staff should be looking not only for live insects, but also for cast skins or speckles of dried blood or excrement on furniture or in places where bed bugs hide.
• Hotel staff should do the following:
- vacuum rooms and accessories daily;
- inspect incoming furniture and wall hangings that may have been stored or warehoused; and
- inspect and repair loose wallpaper and cracks in baseboards to reduce areas where bed bugs can settle.
*Information provided by Ecolab Pest Elimination and the National Pest Management Association, Inc.