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.
We have done our due diligence, scouring the internet to find some common misperceptions as they pertain to bed bugs. As part of our mission at KnowBedBugs is to better educate the lodging industry AND the general public, we felt it our duty to set the record straight.
1. Bed Bugs Are Too Small To See
Bed bugs are visible to the naked eye at every stage of life. Bed bug eggs are very small, averaging about 1mm in length. Adult bed bugs can range in length from 4mm to 7mm. So, what do bed bugs look like? We aren’t going to say that a magnifying glass isn’t a good idea, but you don’t NEED one. Please refer the chart below for reference.
2. Bed Bugs Travel Attached to Humans
While it is true that bed bugs are attracted to carbon dioxide, and that may encourage more bites in the upper torso, head and neck area, bed bugs do not “latch-on” to humans to travel place to place. They are hitchhikers, and are much more likely to be discovered hiding in luggage, briefcases, newspapers and shoes rather than on a person’s body.
3. Bed Bugs Can Fly
Bed bugs can’t fly. They don’t have wings. Bed bugs can’t even jump! Bed bugs crawl to get around, and they are not even so quick. They average about 1 meter/minute.
4. Bed Bugs Transmit Diseases
Although bed bugs are a public health concern, there have been no reported cases of bed bugs transmitting disease. In studies, bed bugs have been shown to carry pathogens, however research has shown no evidence of transmission from bug to human. Of course, bed bugs can cause stress and anxiety. Also, recent scientific research, as published by PCT Magazine, has discovered that bed bugs can induce fatal systemic reactions in humans repeatedly exposed to bed bugs.
5. Bed Bugs Bite in a Pattern OR Bed Bug Bites Look Different from other Bug Bites
It is often cited that bed bugs bite in a pattern of “3 bites in a straight line”. While this may be sometimes true, it is not always the case. So, what do bed bug bites look like? Everyone reacts differently to bed bugs. Bed bugs have both an anticoagulant as well as an anesthetic in their bite. It keeps the blood flowing, and stops most people from feeling the bite! Some people can have a quick and severe reaction with inflamed red welts and terrible itching. Others may not have a reaction at all. Also, by some estimate, it can take up to 3 weeks for a bite to even show. In short, bed bug bites are not discernible from other insect related bites. Visual evidence of bites alone are not an indicator of a bed bug infestation.
6. Bed Bugs are Usually Found in Cheaper Hotels, Dirty Homes and Urban Environments
We could not stress this enough: Bed Bugs Do Not Discriminate! While it is true that bed bug infestations are harder to control where clutter and lack of cleanliness often reside, bed bugs can be found wherever human beings are found. Aside from homes, bed bugs have been discovered in:
- Government Offices
- College Dormitories (Princeton!)
- Assisted Living Facilities
- 5-Star Hotels
and the list goes on and on….
7. Foggers Can Kill Bed Bugs
The majority of over the counter foggers contain pyrethroid and pyrethrin. Research in the field has time and again shown bed bugs have developed resistance to these chemicals. Susan Jones, an urban entomologist with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, was quoted in a TIME magazine article as saying: “These foggers don’t penetrate in cracks and crevices where most bed bugs are hiding, so most of them will survive.” She went on: “If you use these products, you will not get the infestation under control, you will waste your money, and you will delay effective treatment of your infestation”, said Jones.
You should always contact a pest control professional to deal with bed bugs!
8. Bed Bugs Lay Millions of Eggs
On average, an adult pregnant female bed bug will lay 2-5 eggs/day, and up to 500 in her lifetime. Although that may seem like a lot, this number is far less than other insects. For instance, the common house fly can lay up to 500 eggs in just over 3 days! A single pregnant female can cause an infestation of more than 5,000 bed bugs in a 6-month period. That is still cause for concern. You should familiarize yourself with the signs of an infestation. Eggs, empty egg shells, bed bug shells (casings) , bed bug feces and blood stains are all signs of an infestation. Because bed bugs are good hiders, you may very well notice these signs before actually seeing a live bug! Our Bed Bug Detection link should help:
9. Bed Bugs Are Only Found In Beds
We spend about 1/3rd of our lives in bed. For that reason, bed bugs are very often found in the mattress, box spring, and around the bed area. They are NOT exclusive to the bed, however. Bedbugs can be found in any part of the dwelling where humans can be found, including the bathroom! They like to hide in the headboards and artwork on the walls, in the electrical sockets, in the carpet, sofa, curtains…bed bugs can live just about anywhere, and not just where we sleep! They have been discovered in movie theaters, public transportation and even in restaurants to name a few.
10. Using a Bed Bug Registry is a Good Way to Avoid Bed Bugs when Traveling
Bed bug registries allow submissions from any user. The sites do not check for the validity of the reports, nor do they contact the hotels to see if an issue was remedied. The reports also stay on line indefinitely. In short, you can’t trust the bed bug registries! The BEST defense for the traveling guest is a proactive approach. We highly encourage you to do your own inspection for bed bugs when arriving at your hotel and BEFORE you unpack! We have made it easy for you. Our own FREE Hotel Inspection Checklist can be found here:
You may also want to ask your hotel if they have a standard operating procedure in the event of a bed bug incident. At KnowBedBugs, we not only thoroughly train the housekeeping staff on detection, our training program also conducts post-training testing of each employee. KnowBedBugs training covers all facets of the bed bug epidemic, including:
- Bed Bug Biology
- Guest Interaction
KnowBedBugs can help. Ask your hotel if they are a member of KnowBedBugs.com. If you own or manage a hotel or resort property, contact us to get started.
At KnowBedBugs.com we train hotel housekeeping and front desk staff on the identification of bed bugs AND in dealing with their guests should an event occur. After training, each employee is tested. Finally, the hotel is awarded a certification based on the percentage of full-time staff that has trained and passed the testing.
For their part, guests can learn how to identify bed bugs, conduct their own in-room inspections, and even book rooms with certified locations, all from our site at KnowBedBugs.com
We are trying to get out in front of the issue, and understand that it takes cooperation between the hotels and their guests. We are trying to start the conversation.
Check With Us Before You Check In
We Have A Plan!