Controlling bed bug infestations

While hotels can perform integrated pest- management techniques to reduce the level of activity from the majority of pests that find their way indoors, the same cannot be said for bed bugs. Traveling on guests and employees, bed-bug infestations are limited only by a hotel’s ability to catch them early. 

According to Mark House, VP at bed bug treatment supplier Sterifab, the creatures are seen in varied locations, including within a computer mouse. He recommends his company’s product as a non-residual contact kill application. While no pesticides are capable of killing bed bug eggs due to their unique biology, Sterifab’s alcohol-based makeup has a debilitating effect on bed bug nymphs while within the eggs, and dries quickly, making it safe for use near humans.

“Bed bugs travel with clothing and suitcases, but don’t hide there,” House said. “They are attracted to the carbon dioxide you exhale, and hide in lamp shades, inside mattresses, in the drywall and other areas near the bed.”

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“The No. 1 pest for hotels is bed bugs, regardless of the season,” said Paul Curtis, manager of regulatory and technical services at Terminix. Curtis said the best practice for hotels to handle an infestation is to use multiple methods of control. “The worst you can do is one thing," he said.

According to Curtis, heat treatments during which a room’s temperature is raised above 122 degrees, killing all bed bugs not in the egg stage are popular in hospitality because it allows the room to open up faster, but rarely result in a 100-percent mortality rate. This is because there are insulated areas in a structure that are difficult to get to the correct temperature, and that is where applying the correct formulations of pesticides to cut off escape routes allows for more certainty.

Training housekeeping to recognize the evidence of bed- bug activity, such as fecal stains on bedding and linen, or definite visual confirmation, can help prevent potentially embarrassing accusations from guests.

“Hotels can’t inspect a guest’s luggage or belongings, it’s not acceptable or economical,” Curtis said. “They have to accept the fact that guests, vendors and even employees can constantly be sources of introduction, and they need to be able to respond."