Bed bugs may be the bane of the modern hotel industry, but they have been around for most of recorded history, first as parasites that sucked the blood from bats living in caves and then doing the same to the early humans who later inhabited the same subterranean caverns. Relationships between man and bedbug in ancient times have of course changed drastically down through time, but there still remains a connective thread.
The hunters and gatherers of old were nomadic; today, every hotel meets and greets a transient population from every corner of the cosmos. This connection is vital to the understanding of the bed bug’s ancient pest and its disturbing and persistent spread across the globe.
The Kind of Damages Bed Bugs Cause
We recently published an extensive industry guide to bed bug prevention for the hotel and lodging industry, which covered the direct and indirect damages bed bugs can cause, but the bottom line is hoteliers pay a high price in more ways than one when these little creatures find their way into their businesses.
Unfortunately infestations have only increased in recent years since the elimination of DDT, recently leading bed bug researchers to estimate that at the current rate of reported infestations, every person living in the United States will soon either have a personal encounter with bedbugs or will know someone who has.
It is difficult to determine a cost range, as each hotel/lodging facility situation is different, but property loss and damages can be very costly. In many cases, property must be discarded and replaced. This can include: mattresses, box springs, headboards, carpets, bed frames, curtains, bedding, upholstered chairs and couches.
Legal Implications and Insurance
For any hotelier or lodging business manager, a bedbug invasion is a nightmare that can lead to a loss of reputation, revenue and standing within the hotel and lodging industry and the public-at-large. Due to the fact that bedbugs are undergoing an unusual revival and causing many different problems for the hospitality industry, there has been a significant increase in personal injury lawsuits against hotel owners and managers by guests who allege they have been bitten by bedbugs.
Hotel owners can be liable for damages and bear the expense of defending against these claims. They should seek insurance coverage for these unexpected costs that some (but not all) insurance companies do offer.
6 Reasons Why Every Lodging Business Needs A Preventative Bed Bug Plan
With that creepy introduction, the following is a list of the icky kind, as it features the top six horrifying facts about bed bugs and underscores the importance of implementing proper preventative measures to ensure your hotel, motel, hospital, HOA property management company or any other lodging business doesn’t fall victim to their destructive bite.
Read on, if you dare.
Bed bugs Are the Vampires of the Insect World
No one can say for sure, but perhaps the genius of Bram Stoker in his creation of the Dracula legend was inspired at least in part by time spent in hotels and inns across 19th- century Europe where he did travel extensively in the 1870s as the personal assistant for British actor, Henry Irving. It is likely that bedbugs found a safe harbor in these small country inns and taverns that proliferated the European countryside.
While these annoying pests lack the charisma and charm of a handsome cloaked stranger with alluring eyes and very strange teeth, they have a lot in common with the enigmatic Count Dracula, as they too survive by feeding on the blood of their hapless victims. Bedbugs prefer the blood of humans but will also feed upon pets and other animals.
They have evolved over the centuries for the sole purpose of feeding on human flesh. It is far from comforting to learn that they also feed mostly under cover of darkness about once a week and each feeding takes from 3 to 12 minutes.
Bed bugs Attack Humans When They Are Most Vulnerable
In keeping with the analogy of scary movies, just think for a moment about what makes them so frightening. Yes, the man in the shadows with the sharp knife doesn’t help, but it much more the idea of a star, either male or female, being caught at a moment when he or she is most vulnerable. (That shower scene in Psycho. Need I say more?)
Bedbugs are nasty little nocturnal critters and it is your guests in your hotel with whom they like to sleep. Their eating habits are a bit frightening as well. They gorge themselves and each meal, alas, is a Thanksgiving overload. This causes their carapaces to bloat, and to add insult to injury; they defecate upon their human hosts after they have eaten.
The Cleanest Hotel in the World is No Guarantee Against Bed Bug Infestations
For all intents and purposes, most efforts to deter bed bugs can be viewed as futile as attempting to count raindrops in a storm. Unlike cockroaches and other pests that feed on garbage, bedbugs can infiltrate anywhere they are introduced without benefit of hotel amenities. All they need to multiply is a place to do it. Bedbug infestations can occur anywhere and affect any one or any establishment.
To add to the discomfort, bedbugs reproduce very quickly and with just one very busy male and female, within just a few weeks (and without benefit of television and other distractions) a room can be covered wall to wall with thousands of these creepy crawlies whose only function in life is to suck on your guests’ delicious blood.
If You See Them, It’s Too Late
Unless you know the signs indicating their presence, bedbugs can be difficult to both control and eliminate. It is said that for every one rat you see, there are at least 50 that you don’t, and that number must be multiplied by the thousands when it comes to bedbugs. By the time even one bedbug is detected, the infestation is already out of hand, and only professional exterminators, like our friendly service teams, and at least three follow-up visits spaced a few weeks apart, will eradicate the problem.
For a hotel, this is a nightmare that might involve more than a year to completely remove, and all affected mattresses, box springs and pillows must be kept in special protectors.
They Are Resistant to Pesticides
Over the years, especially since DDT was banned, bedbugs have developed a multi-level resistance to insecticides. Scientific studies reveal that they have mutated by altering two of the two hundred amino acids that comprise their sodium pore, which makes them a whopping two hundred and fifty times more resistant to modern pesticides.
In a shuddering aside, just consider that bedbugs have taken over the human weapons used to destroy them and used them to strengthen themselves instead. (It might make a good premise for a new horror movie, withstanding the fact that it’s true.)
Bed Bugs May Transmit Potentially Lethal MRSA Infection
The MRSA infection is another horror movie in and of itself, and bedbugs may have the capacity to transmit this dreaded condition to humans. According to a group of scientists at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, Canada, the super virus was present in five bedbug samples taken from patients treated at the hospital.
All three patients were residents of Vancouver’s poor Downtown Eastside, where both bedbugs and MRSA have been on the rise in the last few years. Although at this point, that is what is positively known about any connection between bedbugs and MRSA, it is still enough for several shudders to find their icy way up most spines.
According to Gail Getty, a research entomologist at the University of California, “To the best of my knowledge, we have not seen any research that has proven bedbugs have been able to pass diseases to their human hosts. Although they do carry pathogens, there is no single scientific study that has proven a transfer.”
Still, if bedbugs are capable of spreading MRSA in the same manner as a mosquito transmits dreaded malaria, this could predict a new and horrible dimension to human disease.
Pestco Extermination Products And Services To The Rescue
We’ve been the bearer of good news for hoteliers and lodging business managers for well over 70 years, particularly those throughout the great city of Pittsburgh, all Western PA counties, Ohio, and now nationally through our strategic alliance with Copesan. While there is no quick fix, so to speak of, there are highly effective solutions involving both chemical and non-chemical methods. Most importantly, a coordinated plan based upon solid information is the first step in both the prevention and control of bedbugs.
Since our inception, our mission has been to always stay a step ahead of any pest or rodent, and our cutting edge detection and treatment techniques are far more effective than the conventional “spray and pray” approach employed by many exterminating companies.
The following are some tried and true measures that have proven to be very effective in detecting and controlling bed bug populations in hotels and lodging establishments.
- Aprehend Biopesticide
Jenkins and Bellicanta, an innovative team at Penn State University, invented this new bed bug spray, and have chosen Pestco to test Aprehend’s initial commercial use and application. Aprehend is a long-acting application that is strategically applied in narrow bands where bedbugs are known to crawl, attacking and killing bed bugs in all stages of life. Comprised of a natural fungus the spores of which germinate and then penetrate the heart of the bed bug colony, it always results in complete insect annihilation.
- Bed Bug Canine Inspection
Although costly, quarterly canine inspection is by far the most efficient early bedbug detection strategy. The nose of a trained dog is an incredibly powerful tool, as canines possess up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses as compared to about 6 million in humans. Part of the dog’s brain is devoted to analyzing smells, and it is for this reason that Pestco’s canine inspectors, who are all affectionately known as Radar, can be so well trained to detect specific odors and situations.
- Pinpoint Application Methods
Pestco’s highly trained technicians attack bed bugs where they hide in commercial establishments. They use only those materials approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Their Green Shield Certified X-TermiGreen program offers the hotel and lodging industry pest control solutions that are healthy, environmentally responsible and sustainable. No pesticides are ever used to eliminate existing pest populations. Pinpoint application methods ensure that products are utilized in such a way as to minimize contact with humans and animals.
- Cryonite Freezing Methods
One of the main advantages of this technique, which is appreciated by hotels and lodging business facilities, is that fact that evacuation of a treated area is not necessary. Even in the restaurant and food industry, pest control operations can be carried out without interrupting production.
The cooling medium is cryonite, also known as carbon dioxide snow, which is sprayed from a specially designed and patented nozzle, which can penetrate into deep cracks and crevices, complex machinery, and reach far into long pipes. For the hotel industry, it is convenient because guests can return to their rooms immediately following treatment.
- Heat Treatments
Heat treatments can also be very efficient for hotel and lodging business establishments, as unlike conventional methods, one application is usually enough to completely eliminate bed bugs. These treatments utilize only non-toxic chemicals and as is the case of freezing applications, hotel guests can return to their rooms afterwards without delay.
Pestco’s Complete Facility Care Program
We’ve been supporting the needs of businesses owners long enough to know the bed bugs and pests are just one potential thorn in the side of their bottom line and online reputation. Bad odors, germs and poor restroom hygiene can take as much toll on a business’ reputation and revenue as those little bloodsuckers can.
With that, we created Complete Facility Care, a new cost effective alternative that includes pest management and pest control solutions in conjunction with restroom hygiene maintenance and environmental odor and air freshening solutions provided by Air-Scent. This bundled collection of services can ultimately save a hotel and lodging business much time, money and face.
Keep your hotel or lodging business from becoming its own horror novel with at least six chapters concerning the above mentioned icky bedbug facts. Such thoughts aptly belong to readers of suspense fiction on dark and rainy nights, but not in hotel guest rooms where customers pay for peace, quiet and…only visitors who are invited.
Contact our team today for pest control and management solutions that will give you satisfaction and peace of mind.
Final shudders about bedbugs: The bedbug situation is getting worse before it’s getting better. ~Brad Mitchell