Are you battling bug infestation in your hotel and want to know how to eliminate them? If YES, here are 10 ways hotels prevent bed bug infestation. Individuals traveling for business and leisure all want a home away from home when they stay in a hotel.

Coupled with a comfortable bed and enough towels and pillows, travelers want a competent staff, proximity to good food, a few basic amenities, and a clean and restful room. One thing they don’t want is an unwanted roommate, like pests.

Even if every other thing from check-in to check-out is perfect, a pest sighting can ruin the hotel experience for a guest. Pests, such as cockroaches and rodents, can compromise a hotel’s cleanliness by carrying pathogens that spread diseases. There’s not much that can spoil a hotel stay like the presence of bed bugs.

Bed bugs are tiny parasitic insects that feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals. They’re called bed bugs because they like to nest in and around beds and feed on sleeping people. According to reports, bed bug infestations are on the rise. 99.6 percent of pest professionals have treated for bed bugs in the past year.

Note that this number – which has been consistent for the past few years – is significantly higher than 15 years ago, when only 25 percent of pest professionals reported treating for bed bugs, according to the National Pest Management Association.

Adult bed bugs grow to be 4–5 millimetres long and 1.5–3 millimetres wide (about the size of an apple seed), with a small head and larger oval-shaped body. Newly hatched bed bug nymphs are tiny (1 millimetre) and cream coloured. Most bed bug infestations are found in beds, furniture, pictures and baseboards next to the bed. Bed bugs can hide in cracks, folds and tucks in and around these areas.

Bed bug signs tend to include bite symptoms, small brown (faecal) spots on bedding and small blood smears on sheets. If there’s a moderate to severe infestation, small translucent bed bug eggs, though very hard to see, may be found in tucks and folds of mattresses and box springs, behind headboards, along baseboards and other hiding places. You may also notice moulted skin from the bed bugs, or bedding that has a slightly sweet or rotting fruit odour.

Have it in mind that bed bugs are notoriously challenging to control. Indeed, they are resistant to most over-the-counter pesticides and are very good at hiding. Even if you have treated your beds and furniture, bed bug colonies may still be thriving under carpets, in walls or in other inaccessible areas of your hotel. One product or technique, used alone, is not likely to be effective against bed bugs.

10 Ways Hotels Prevent Bed Bug Infestation

According to experts, the best course for hotel bed bug control is to work with a recognized and reputable commercial pest control professional that has specific training, skills, and proven methods for dealing with bed bugs. But asides that, here are other tips and strategies to consider;

  1. Employ effective elimination methods

In terms of bed bug extermination, vacuuming, freezing and steam heat are some of the most effective treatments. All the headboards, seams and other potential hiding places should be carefully vacuumed. Bed bugs are known to hide within 5 feet of the bed. Once done, check all the vacuum brushes to ensure that no pests are caught in the roller and place the vacuum bag in a securely sealed bag before disposing.

Freezing the bedding, pillow and bed covers in extreme cold for 48 to 72 hours can help eliminate these pests. Professional bed bug exterminators tend to use carbon dioxide under pressure to immediately eliminate bed bugs and their eggs.

Steam heating is another effective method. Remove all the infected bedding items and covers and send them for a steam wash. This not only helps you get rid of the bed bugs, but their larvae, pupa and other small bugs also are eliminated.

  1. Inspect the entire room

A common misconception about bed bugs is that they are only found on bed frames and mattresses. Bed bugs will hide in small cracks and crevices near the bed, in skirting boards or bedside cabinets. When checking for bed bugs in a hotel room, housekeeping staff should also check:

  • Along the seams, inside covers and around the zips of sofas and chairs
  • Where furniture, skirting boards and carpets meet the wall
  • Along the seals of doors and drawers as well as the joints
  • Around ornaments such as lamps and picture frames
  1. Take appropriate preventive action

One way to always prevent bed bug infestation is planned prevention. If a bed bug infestation is ignored for long, it becomes more difficult to eliminate these pests because of their ability to harbour in hard-to-reach areas and how quickly they breed and spread.

Also note that sealing the areas that are prone to infestation is important. For instance, use sealed mattress and pillow casements. If your hotel is prone to bed bug infestations, it is important to consider partnering with professional bed bug exterminators.

  1. Investigate customer complaints

Customer complaints, whether face-to-face or on online review sites about finding insects bites, can often hint that you might have bed bugs in your hotel. Agreeably, it can be challenging to identify a bed bug bite as everybody reacts differently to them, any concerns from customers around bites should be investigated immediately. Insect bites could point towards a potential bed bug infestation. Also remember that mosquitoes and fleas might also be the source of insect bites.

  1. Carry out proper documentation

Proper documentation is of very high importance. Reports regarding customer complaints, inspections and the treatments carried out help the concerned department tackle a bed bug infestation effectively. Note that just as early detection is imperative, proper documentation is also necessary. You can keep a track of previous incidences of infestation and track the occurrence and areas that are frequently infected. This helps you chart a clear strategy to eliminate bed bugs.

  1. Check for eggs

Bed bug eggs are a common sign of an infestation. When checking a hotel room for bed bugs, housekeeping staff should remember to look for bed bug eggs as well as live bed bugs. Bed bug eggs are laid in batches of between 1 and 5 eggs each day.

They are approximately 1 mm in length and are a grain-like milky white colour. Bed bug eggs are usually laid singly or in clusters within cracks and crevices, such as the joints of furniture and between floors, walls and skirting boards.

  1. Educate Your Staff

Have it in mind that your staff are your best defence for bed bug prevention. The first and foremost step you should take is to educate your staff on how to find bed bugs and best practices to follow to keep these stubborn pests away from your hotel. The staff are expected to be attentive at all times and should look out for the following signs:

  • Reddish or rust-coloured stains that resemble dried blood on mattresses or bed sheets. These occur because the bed bugs are crushed while they are feeding or if they have recently fed.
  • Small eggshells or eggs in the bedding and skins cast off by the nymphs as they grow. The eggs are around 1 millimetre in size, and the skins shed by nymphs are usually of a tan shade or pale yellow in colour.
  • Groups of tiny dark spots that smear when they are wiped with a wet rag. This is bed bug faecal matter and is generally dark brown or black in colour.
  • Live bed bugs, which are wingless, flat and oval-shaped creatures. They are usually brown in colour but may appear reddish if they have recently fed. The nymphs are paler and smaller and the fully grown adults range from 4 to 5 millimetres in size.
  1. Inspect adjoining rooms

In hotels, bed bugs can spread easily to adjacent rooms beside, below or above. Once you note the signs of bed bugs in your hotel, it is highly advised that housekeeping give a thorough inspection for bed bugs in adjacent hotel rooms, including lobbies and other recreational areas.

  1. Follow your nose

The discarded exoskeletons, faeces and pheromones emitted by bed bugs produce an unpleasant, sweet, sickly scent. The detection of this scent could indicate you have a large bed bug infestation in your hotel. Housekeeping staff should be aware of this and investigate the problem if they discover an unpleasant, strange odour in a hotel room.

  1. Investigate stains

After a bed bug has fed they will often defecate. Their excrement can be found in the form of dark/black stains located on the mattress and surrounding area. Housekeeping staff should be on the lookout for any suspicious-looking stains around these areas to help identify bed bugs in hotels.

Indeed bed bugs are everywhere and are one of the most stubborn pests to deal with. Hotel pest control has its own set of unique challenges because there are numerous potential hiding spots and areas that allow bed bugs to thrive. These pests not only put the health of your guests and staff at risk, but can also harm your hotel’s reputation. Howbeit, with early detection and a strategic approach, they can be eliminated.

Ajaero Tony Martins