Bedbugs: Be Proactive
Simple Steps Can Help Prevent Infestation
Prepared by Jeffery A Weier, BCE, Sprague Pest Solutions
Bedbugs have made a strong comeback. These insidious pests are moving quickly throughout our society. As with any pest, prevention is always more desirable than remediation. Bedbugs present unique challenges to our industry. Bedbugs are great “hitchhikers”; they can hide in luggage, purses, clothing and even a wallet. They are very small in their young stages and difficult to find. Bedbugs lay eggs frequently - usually four to five every day. Bedbugs disperse within buildings, meaning they move away from the initial point of entry into other parts of the room or even between rooms.
The bottom line with bedbugs is that in a hotel or even a restaurant, the next guest that walks in can bring in bedbugs and start an infestation. Bedbug activity is independent of sanitation and economic status—they are equal opportunity pests.
What can you do to help prevent infestations?
While it is impossible to prevent a bedbug from entering a hotel, steps can be taken to prevent the isolated introduction from becoming a full-fledged infestation.
It is imperative to discover and deal with bedbug activity early, before they have a chance to reproduce and become an infestation. All staff members should be trained in what bedbugs look like and what the signs are indicating bedbugs are present. This will allow you to discover activity shortly after they arrive and deal with it before they reproduce, spread and bite guests or staff.
Trained bedbug detection dogs are the best technology available at this time to find bedbugs. This is especially true when the activity is low, such as one or two bugs in a room. Dogs are not infallible and are not a substitute for a trained and vigilant staff. However, the combination of a trained, vigilant staff and a dog inspection program has proven extremely effective. Inspections should not be limited to sleeping rooms. Common areas, lobbies and dining rooms should also be inspected. Because of the bedbug’s rapid reproductive rate, every area should be inspected at least quarterly for maximum protection.
There are several new monitoring tools being developed. Perhaps the most effective is a simple device called the ClimbUp®. The ClimbUp® is a cup that is lined with a slippery talcum powder. The legs of furniture are placed in this device and any bedbugs leaving the furniture or attempting to climb onto the furniture are captured. This device can detect bedbugs at the initial stages of infestation but are rather noticeable and may not be appropriate for all situations.
Preventive applications of pesticides have been a traditional means of preventing infestation. Contrary to what you may have heard, there are many effective pesticides for the control of bedbugs. One issue with preventive applications is that bedbug activity is often centered on the bed and mattresses and should not be treated routinely. Because bedbugs can hide in any small crack or crevice, the entire room would have to be thoroughly treated, and even then they could still live on the bed successfully. Preventive applications of inorganic dusts, such as diatomaceous earth and silica gel, into wall voids and behind headboards can help suppress the spread of bedbugs without causing exposure to your guests.
While they do not prevent bedbugs, bedbug-proof encasements on the mattress and box springs will prevent bedbugs from entering these areas. This simplifies detection and removal of the bedbugs. Encasements also save expensive mattress sets.
Bedbug prevention requires a diligent and integrated approach but can be successful and protect your guests, your brand and your reputation.