This common pest, once associated with unhygienic surroundings, is prevalent due to a number of reasons, including increased travel, the use of second-hand furniture, and suspected tolerance to some pesticides. These bugs still occur with regularity, particularly in multi-occupancy buildings with rapid resident turnover - for example, hostels, hotels, holiday camps and apartments.
An adult Bed bug resembles a small brown disc, measuring up to 6mm in length. It is wingless but the legs are well developed, and it can crawl up most vertical surfaces.
Bed bugs elongated eggs are cemented in cracks or crevices close to the hosts (which for Bed bugs are humans). The early stages of Bed bugs (nymphs) are tiny, making them hard to detect with the naked eye.
Bed bugs can usually be introduced to your property as they attach to luggage, bags, and clothing. Bed bugs may also be introduced through second-hand beds, furniture, and possessions.
Bed bugs can also travel from one room to another in search of food, or after mating. Sometimes this may be a neighbouring property which then can create new infestations throughout multi-occupied premises.
Mainly active at night, Bed bugs hide in crevices in the bed, surrounding furniture, and also behind skirting boards, under loose wallpaper, behind pictures and even in plug sockets to name a few.
Bed bugs need to feed on the blood of a human host. However, in some cases, they can survive up to a year without feeding.
Why do we need to control Bed bugs?
Bed bug bites cause red, irritating marks/lumps. Not everyone reacts to the bites but some people develop a more severe skin reaction and can experience disturbed sleep. Bed bugs are not known to spread diseases but are known to cause irritation and distress.
Bed bugs can also ruin an organisation's reputation. If clients and customers experience a bed bug infestation at a premises, they are likely to complain and request a refund, report on your company negatively and be unlikely to want to do business with you again.
How to prevent Bed bugs
It's impossible to prevent a Bed bug infestation as they travel so easily. However there are some things you should do:
Before staying or moving into accommodation, make sure you check for signs of bed bugs. If you have stayed in an infested room, upon arriving home, immediately check your luggage and clothing for bugs. In a case where you find evidence of Bed bugs, you need to remove the bugs and eggs your luggage, clothing and bedding and wash everything at a ‘hot' (60 C) temperature setting; tumble dry at a ‘hot’ setting for at least 30 minutes; dry clean everything; or place everything into a bag and then in the deep freezer for at least 3 days.
For some businesses such as hotels, a proactive monitoring regime allows for early detection. Training your staff in what to look for when they are cleaning and working within the rooms will mean you can detect a problem before a guest does, thereby protecting your reputation and having the opportunity to combat the infestation sooner.
Signs of an infestation
- Red irritating bites, typically in rows on your neck, shoulders, back, legs or arms.
- Clusters or dark spots (about 1mm wide) that look like an ink dot are usually found on the bed frame or on the bottom side of the mattress.
- Small blood smears on the bed linen or headboard.
- Finding the small brown insects in and around your bed frame and sleeping area.
Integrated pest management for Bed bugs
Bed bug occurrence can be a very challenging problem for hotel management. Incidences of Bed bug infestations have grown exponentially over the last decade or so. It is the one pest problem which guests specifically identify as a likely reason for cancelling a booking.
It is extremely important to identify bed bugs as soon as possible and to give housekeeping staff the necessary training to help with this process.
Here are a range of commercial beg bug treatments which can be use to treat bed bugs. With IPM, the first steps are:
- A comprehensive inspection of the affected area.
- Washing the bedding at a high temperature.
- Using a “dedicated” vacuum for beds and other potential areas which may harbour bed bugs.
- Once this is done, (and if a professional treatment was also carried out), the area should be closely monitored to ensure that the pest problem has been completely eradicated.
- Heat treatments are a chemical-free method of pest control used to treat bed bugs by raising the temperature of an affected room. When a cell is heated up to around 45°C or more, that DNA starts to break down and so the cell ceases to function as it should and the bug is killed.