Doing a bit of traveling this holiday season? Staying in a hotel? Think your hotel is safe from a bed bug infestation? It’s not. A recent article published by PJ Media entitled, “10 Hotel Chains with the Worst Bed Bug Infestations” lists some rather well known hotel chains:
Holiday Inn, Days Inn, Hampton Inn, Marriott, Hilton, and Motel 6 to name a few. It seems like no one is safe, no matter what the cost you pay for a space to lay your head. But fret not! You can take control of the situation, making certain that your room is bed bug free. Just as any pest management professional will tell you – the key to any pest issue is a good and thorough inspection.
LOOK FOR SIGNS OF CURRENT AND PAST ACTIVITY
LIVE BED BUGS: This one seems obvious enough. If it moves, it is probably still alive. The common misnomer is that bed bugs are microscopic. They aren’t. You can see them, though they are fairly small. Figure A is an image of a bed bug on a linen sheet. Bed bugs do not fly or jump, but can crawl rather well. Keep in mind that bed bugs are nocturnal, which means they are much more active at night. If you find a bed bug during the morning or afternoon hours, it might be resting and will not automatically move unless prodded along.
DEAD BED BUGS: This sign is just like live signs, but you know… lifeless. Dead, done, call it a day. Just because you find dead activity, this does not mean that there are no longer bed bug issues, just as it does not mean that there are current bed bug issues. All it really means is that you should continue your inspection.
MOLTING: Bed bugs go through what is called an incomplete metamorphosis. Instead of egg, larva, pupae and adult, bed bugs go from egg to nymph to adult. A nymph is basically a small version of an adult bed bug. As bed bugs grow larger, their exoskeleton becomes too tight, forcing the bed bug to molt from the restrictive skin. They do this by literally growing out of their exoskeleton, leaving it behind. This molting process will happen many times until the bed bug officially becomes an adult and reaches its maximum size. The left over exoskeleton, in turn can often be seen in, around and nearby harborage areas.
BLOOD DROPLETS (FECES): Not only do bed bugs consume blood, but they also excrete it in the form of feces. What goes in, must come out! The feces may be black, brown, yellow or even red in color and are easily identified. Small, pinhead-sized dots can cover the area in question, giving proof positive identification of a previous or even current bed bug infestation.
SIGNS OF PREVIOUS TREATMENT: This is perhaps a harder item to identify. There are several ways to kill a bed bug and not all of them are pesticidal. For instance, our organization prefers to utilize steam because the heat not only kills the adult, but also the eggs and leaves no residual trace that we were ever there, nor does it produce any pesticide off-gas. (A win-win!) Some pest control companies will prefer to utilize dust, which is typically a white, chalky powder. It does not take much effort to apply and while it may not kill all bed bugs, it can be more cost effective – though a repeat visit will undoubtedly be required. If you do see signs of dust, make sure you do not see it on a surface that you sleep on. You do not want to inadvertently breathe in pesticides while sleeping. It is not necessarily a bad thing if you find residual dust behind wall coverings or headboards.
WHERE TO LOOK FOR SIGNS OF CURRENT AND PAST ACTIVITY
There is no law that states a hotel must tell you if they have had a bed bug issue or in which rooms. Keep in mind that although there may be issues in one room, this does not mean that the entire hotel is infested. Bed bugs do not typically travel from room to room on their own – they need a host or to be moved unknowingly via janitorial or some other method. Some hotels are willing to move occupants to another room if there is concern that there may be a problem. Of course, this starts the inspection process all over again. When in doubt, find another place to stay or stay with a relative that you know does not have any bed bug issues. The worst thing you can do is turn a blind-eye to a potential issue. Most people would rather go through the hassle of inspection than transport bed bugs to their home.