Summer is traditionally the time of year when bed bugs peak in activity. The causes are not well studied and could be related to weather or more frequent travel. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to review facility programs for bed bug management and prevention before the summer ends. Below are 10 tips that hoteliers can use in the fight against bed bugs.
1. Educate housekeeping staff regarding the signs of bed bugs.
They are most likely to encounter the early warning signs of bed bugs. The signs include the appearance of the different stages of bed bugs, including their fecal material or blood spots. The quicker a bed bug introduction is identified, the easier it is to control and limit the spread.
2. Front desk staff may be the first to receive a complaint about bed bugs.
They too must know how to properly identify bed bugs. Bed bugs can be confused with other insects including ticks. Initial confirmation of identification is important in responding to hotel guests’ concerns. If the problem is indeed bed bugs, the hotel must have a policy on the steps to take in dealing with the issue. This can include moving the guest to a different room as well as addressing any worries the guest may have regarding the handling of their suitcases and other personal items from the room. At the minimum, guests should be offered a room in another section of the hotel, away from their original room.
3. Use mattress encasements.
Mattress covers designed to encase bed bugs can help staff recognize the early signs of an infestation. Because these encasements are designed to reduce the potential bed bug harborages found on mattresses they can make it easier for staff to find bed bugs.
4. Consider the impact of building design and furnishings during new hotel constructions or renovations.
Bed bugs like cracks and crevices. They also prefer materials like wood. The furnishings that hoteliers use can be more or less favorable to bed bug survival. This is especially important in furnishings used around the bed. A large headboard, which is difficult to remove and inspect, can benefit bed bugs establishing in a guest room. Headboards that extend the length of two beds or extend almost to the ceiling are examples of poor design. Furnishing and room designs that minimize cracks allow for easier access for inspection and are better choices.
5. Retain samples of insects that staff members cannot identify for a pest management company.
Not only can bed bugs be confused with other insects, there are multiple species of bed bugs. Some are associated with bats and birds and may take a totally different control approach than the common bed bug.
6. Have a designated area for employees’ personal belongings.
Unfortunately, bed bugs can hitch hike and enter facilities with employees as well as guests. Having a separate locker area designated for employee items can help isolate and reduce the spread of bed bugs into public areas.
7. Use monitors to check for bed bugs and determine if control procedures have been effective.
There are several traps on the market that can be used for bed bug detection. The most common ones are a pit fall type designs where the bed bug enters and can’t climb the smooth walls of the trap to escape. Some models are more discreet than others, and a more discreet trap should be used where public perception is a concern. Although glue traps are commonly used for catching and monitoring a wide variety of insects, they are considered less effective when it comes to bed bug monitoring. Use a pit fall type trap to verify that there are no bed bugs present in a previously infested and neighboring rooms. They can also be used in a proactive approach as well for early detection of a problem. Canines trained to detect bed bugs can be used on a regular basis to proactively find guest room infestations as well.
8. Vacuum bed bugs as a method to reduce numbers until the pest management firm can be on site.
Although eggs can pose some challenges for removal, adults and young bugs can be picked up quite easily. Vacuuming will not kill bed bugs, and the vacuum contents must be immediately emptied and taken outside for disposal.
9. Know the bed bugs’ capabilities.
Bed bugs cannot be easily deprived of food as a method of control. Leaving a room vacant in hopes of starving the bed bugs is not an effective strategy. Bed bugs can survive several months without food and can migrate through wall voids to find food. They will readily move through walls and across hallways in search of food.
10. Check your suppliers.
Some bed bug infestations originate with linens or other supplies being delivered to a facility. This is an uncommon route of entry but can occur.
About the Author
Patricia Hottel is a technical director at McCloud Services.