Bedbugs in the Workplace: What You Need to Know
By now, we are all aware that “bedbugs are back”. Actually, they never truly left. Once nearly eradicated by DDT (which also nearly eradicated everything else), bedbugs have seen a steady resurgence since it’s ban in the 1970s. Frequent articles, blogs, social media posts, and even TV news headlines are hard to miss. Hotels are under attack, it seems, as are schools, libraries, movie theaters, college campuses, day care centers….the list truly goes on and on.
One of the last places you would have expected to find bedbugs, however, is in the workplace (unless, of course, you work at any of the aforementioned places). But don’t let their name fool you…bedbugs are not relegated to places where people sleep. Offices, retail stores, courthouses…these places have all seen recent issues with bedbugs. In truth bedbugs can be found just about any place humans are found. As for your workplace, if there is a report of bedbugs…don’t panic! Here are some tips for you to steer clear and help prevent taking them home with you.
Get Familiar with Bedbugs and the Sign of Bedbug Activity
This may seem like a “no-brainer”, but according to an American Entomologist published report, “When respondents were shown a lineup of enlarged black silhouettes of an ant, termite, louse, bed bug, and tick, only 35% of business travelers and 28% of leisure travelers correctly identified the bed bug.” So in other words, getting familiar with bedbugs, and bedbug activity, is very important to determining if the issue at your workplace is, indeed, bedbugs!
We have just the help you need to get started, right here on our own pages:
Understand the Biology of the Bedbug
- Bedbugs are from the Cimicidae family of insects.
- All bedbugs feed on blood, and need blood to reproduce and thrive
- Adults are between 1/8 and 1/4 of an inch, reddish-brown in color and flat and elliptical in shape, appearing somewhat like a flattened apple seed.
- Bedbugs go through 5 life stages ( called nymph stages) before becoming an adult. They are visible to the naked eye at all stages. You can see that they get larger and darker colored with each stage.
- Bedbugs must have a blood meal to be able to move into their next life stage. It takes 6-8 weeks for bed bugs to reach adulthood.
- Bedbugs do NOT lay eggs out in the open. They prefer to lay their eggs where they are hidden, like in the corners and seams of mattresses and box springs. The eggs are very small, and look like tiny grains of rice. The eggs can hatch in only 6 days under ideal conditions.
Understanding the biology of the bug should lead you to panic less if there is a report in your workplace. Consider that bedbugs are cryptic animals, emerging at night to feed on their hosts. Of course they can adapt to different feeding schedules, but workplaces are usually full of light, activity, and not ideal for a bedbug. For these reasons, it is very difficult for bedbugs to develop a breeding population, so it’s usually a temporary situation. The majority of reports of bedbugs in the workplace are bedbug introductions, not infestations. They were likely introduced by a coworker, as bedbugs are notorious hitchhikers. But even introductions should be treated by pest control professionals.
What Can I Do?
- Be Vigilant and Aware! Knowing the signs of bedbug activity is a HUGE step in avoiding them and helping to stop the spread. Again, refer to our link on bedbugs and bedbug activity for great photos and descriptions. Know what to look for!
- Minimize the amount of personal belongings you take with you in public or to work. Remember, bedbugs love to hitchhike, and bedbugs LOVE clutter! By minimizing your personal belongings, you are giving the bedbugs less opportunity to “hitch a ride” back to your place.
- Change Your Clothing When You Return Home. If bedbugs have been reported in your workplace, remember to change your clothing as soon as you enter your home. Place the soiled linens directly into the washer, and then to the drier, where you should dry on high heat for at least 15 minutes to kill them. Don’t have a washer/dryer at home? Place the soiled clothing into a 2-Ply trash bag and SEAL IT until you can get them laundered.
- Vacuum, Vacuum Vacuum!! Regular vacuuming of high-traffic areas can pick-up the one or two bedbugs you may have introduced into your home or at the office. Be sure to empty the bag/canister after you vacuum. This is a very easy step, but not to be overlooked!
- Preventative Products Can Help. There are a few products on the market that can help prevent the 1 or 2 bedbugs you have introduced to your home from turning into an infestation. Through our own research we have identified the 1 product that we know can help. ActiveGuard liners are an excellent prevention product. They are treated liners, EPA tested & safe for humans and pets, that go on the box spring like a fitted sheet. When bedbugs come in contact with these liners, they stop eating, reproducing, and die within 48-72 hours. (These liners are used in hotels across the country…we swear by them!)
Following these steps will help you avoid bedbugs. So if you do happen to bring home that 1 bedbug from work, the movies or from recent travels, don’t panic. 1 bedbug does not have to grow into an infestation. If you have an infestation, however, we suggest calling the professionals. Bedbugs are NOT a “do-it-yourself” kind of pest.
NOBBEL is the National Organization of Bedbug Education for Living. Our mission is two-fold:
- Educate the public, the lodging industry and other industries about the bed bug epidemic
- Offer bed bug training and certifications for hotels, business and their staff to build consumer confidence and increase bedbug awareness.