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I Brought Bed Bugs Home in My Luggage: Now What?

Just return from a trip to find that bed bugs hitched a ride with you? If so, it can be quite unsettling. Bed bugs are notorious for being a difficult pest to control. And once a population “sets up shop” in your home and starts breeding, bed bugs can also be an expensive pest to eradicate. Complete evacuation of bed bugs can often mean a price tag in the thousands. But don’t panic! A few hitchhikers does NOT have to turn into a full-blown infestation. By using the following tips, you can increase your odds of avoiding a multi-generational bed bug infestation.

HEAT vs PESTICIDES: The Best Bed Bug Treatment for Hotels & Homes

If you have been unfortunate enough to have battled bed bugs, then you completely understand how difficult treatment can be. A quick search on the web for bed bug treatments can leave you dizzy with suggestions, choices and opinions.  Many websites tout home-based remedies such as diatomaceous earth, steam cleaning, vacuum cleaning, etc. There are also many over-the-counter products (too many to name in fact) that promise to “kill bed bugs overnight” or offer a “1-time bed bug treatment”. So who and what information do you trust?

Bed Bugs: Separating Fact from Fiction

Undoubtedly, if you are reading this blog, you have heard about the resurgence of bed bugs. We have written about the pests’ rapid increase in numbers as it effects the hotel industry and it’s guests, discussed the usefulness of the bedbug registry, and commented on housekeeping duties and training to help alleviate guest incidents, among other topics. And we are not the only website writing on the subject. A search for “bed bugs” on Google yields over 7,210,000 results! That is a LOT of information. Unfortunately, not all of the information can be trusted. 

HOTEL HOUSEKEEPING: ON THE FRONT LINES IN THE WAR AGAINST BED BUGS

There have been bed bugs for thousands of years, and at least as long as people have been sleeping. However, the use of DDT nearly wiped out the now-common pest in the 40s, 50s and 60s. But DDT use was banned here in the United States in 1972, and the resurgence of bed bugs began. Within the last 10 years in specific, bed bugs have made a dramatic comeback.  According to a 2015 Bugs Without Borders Survey conducted by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and the University of Kentucky, homes are still overwhelmingly the #1 place where pest control professionals battle the bugs. In second place, nearly 3/4 (74%) of pest control professionals have also battled infestations in hotels, motels and resorts. This explains the rise of consumer concern around bed bugs (a good thing) as well the the proliferation of websites like the Bed Bug Registry (not a good thing!) Hotels, motels and resorts are on the front lines of this battle, and need to be proactive. Having a well trained housekeeping staff is the best place to start!

RESORT AREAS ON ALERT: WHERE THE TOP 50 BED BUG CITIES VACATION

If you were paying attention over the last couple of weeks, you probably noticed that bed bugs are still a hot topic for news headlines across the country. Thankfully for the hotel industry AND it’s guests, the focus has shifted from the lodging industry and headlines are now discussing the growing bed bug problem in our nation’s schools. Even in the nation’s capital, a school had to be closed for bed bug and rodent issues.

At the same time, as Spring approaches and we start to make plans for our Summer vacations, focus will undoubtedly shift back to bed bugs in hotels, motels and resorts. They may already be a factor in your travel decisions. The concerned traveler may be familiar with Orkin’s annual list of the ‘Top 50 Bed Bug Cities‘, and may try to avoid destinations on the list. The pest control company based the ranking on treatment data collected from the areas it performed the most bed bug treatments between December 1, 2015 and November 30, 2016. Before you go changing travel plans, however, remember that this list includes residential as well as commercial treatments. You might want to ask yourself this question instead: Where do the people who live in the cities on this list travel? Where do they take their vacations? Are they taking bed bugs with them?

DON’T TRUST THE BED BUG REGISTRY: WHAT CONSUMERS NEED TO KNOW

Whether you are a concerned traveler, a hotel owner, or a property manager, certainly you are aware of the growing bed bug epidemic. In fact, 1 out of 5 Americans has had a bed bug infestation in their home or knows someone who has encountered bed bugs at home or in a hotel according to a 2011 study. More than likely, those numbers have increased in the 5 years since. Yet as our previous blog stated, this epidemic does NOT rest firmly on the shoulders of the lodging industry. Hotels did not invent bed bugs. Bed bugs are in hotels because guests bring them in, plain and simple. Responsibility lies on the guests AND the lodging industry to help halt the growth of the epidemic.

HOTELS, MOTELS AND THE BED BUG REGISTRY: COOPERATION NEEDED

We have all heard horror stories about dirty hotels, complete with filthy sheets, broken appliances and front desk staffs that didn’t seem to care. As we mentioned in our 1st blog, bed bugs are steadily becoming a mainstay in these stories. For many guests, bed bugs are a cleanliness issue, with the perception being that a clean, upscale hotel would not have bed bugs. After all, THOSE types of problems are much more characteristic of smaller motels, and cheaper roadside inns. Although that perception IS starting to change, the process is slow. In the meantime, hotels with reported bed bug issues, such as those listed on the Bed Bug Registry, are fighting to save their reputation, and in some cases, their businesses. Even our President Trump’s OWN Doral Hotel is being sued by a guest over bed bug bites. The decision was expected by inauguration. The Miami Herald published photos of the guest’s bites:

Bed Bug Training Can Help Hotels Battle a Bed Bug Registry Listing.

As you well know, there has been  a rise in bed bug infestations in the United States. Hotels and the lodging industry as a whole are on the front lines in the battle against this determined pest. In fact,  according to the 2015 “Bugs Without Borders” survey conducted by the University of Kentucky and the National Pest Management Association, 64% of pest control professionals report that bed bug infestations continue to be on the rise, and 74% encountered infestations specifically in hotels and motels. Several sites now act as a bed bug registry, listing consumer’s reports of bed bug encounters at hotels throughout the country. Often, these sites offer little or no recourse for the hotels. The posts stay on these sites indefinitely, causing damage (sometimes irreperably) to the hotel’s reputation. Concerned consumers stear clear of hotels on a bed bug registry, even when the problem may have been remedied. Now, those same consumers will have a new site to help alleviate the growing concerns of encountering bed bugs during their travels. And finally, the hotels listed on a bed bug registry will have some recourse.