They're Back: The Return of Bed Bugs

They're back! The bed bug is an old pest common in homes prior to World War II. For the last 40 years, bed bugs have rarely been seen outside of cramped living quarters and less-than-sanitary conditions in jails and homeless shelters. However, in the last five years there has been a bed bug resurgence, a particular problem in hotels due to the high rate of occupant turnover. Even five-star hotels are having problems with bed bugs. And hotel customers who become the victims of bed bugs are suing — often times winning hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.

What are bed bugs?

Bed bugs are blood-feeding insects. They are a light tan color, but turn dark-reddish brown once they have fed. Before feeding, the adult bed bug is about 1/4 inch long and flattened. Once engorged with blood, it swells in size.

A bed bug feeds on a sleeper's exposed skin about once a week, but can survive for over a year without a blood meal. The bite is nearly painless and is not felt by most people. Some people have no reaction afterward, but most people develop a hard bump with a whitish center which can itch for weeks. Although bed bugs suck blood like other human parasites, there has been no evidence that they spread diseases.

Bed bugs usually feed at night and spend the day hidden. Their flattened shape lets them squeeze into narrow places in bed frames, headboards, in bedside furniture, behind pictures and switch plates, and in other cracks and crevices. Speckles of dried blood excrement can be found on bedding or places where bed bugs hide.

Where do bed bugs come from?

Business people now routinely travel to and from countries where bed bugs are common, even in good hotels. Bed bugs can't fly, so they either crawl or are carried from place to place — hitchhiking in a traveler's suitcase or clothing.

What can I do if bed bugs are spotted?

One case of bed bugs in your facility can affect your reputation. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent bed bugs from entering your facility. But if bed bugs are spotted, there is a way to properly manage the infestation to eliminate them as quickly as possible and prevent them from spreading.

Ecolab has specific protocols to aggressively attack bed bugs. Ecolab's Innspect Bed Bug Service is designed to kill bed bugs in all life stages and remove them from harborage sites. The service provides an aggressive treatment strategy including:

  • Thorough inspection to locate harborage sites
  • Treatment of infested and potentially infested areas
  • Series of follow-up treatments and inspections

Ecolab can also provide training for housekeeping and engineering staff on proactive bed bug measures. This partnership will help ensure that all bed bug infestations are located and effectively eliminated throughout your property.

For more information on Ecolab's Innspect Bed Bug Service Stop by and see us during IH/M&RS, booths #1438 and 1538.
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