Recent research published in the journal Current Biology, has revealed that bed bugs existed long before people, and evolved long before bats, which were believed to be their first hosts. Using DNA samples scientists were able to trace the bed bugs evolution back over millions of years to the Cretaceous period when dinosaurs still roamed the earth.
Though today the risk of being nipped by Triceratops or Pterodactyl is extinct, we are still vulnerable to bed bug bites, particularly when staying in travel accommodation – which is why travellers and hoteliers need to be vigilant and bed bug aware.
How to spot and deal with bed bugs
Bed bugs can multiply rapidly and spread quickly, so it’s in everyone’s interest especially hoteliers, to become bed bug aware. While it’s virtually impossible to prevent them entering your premise, you can help avoid extensive and costly bed bug infestations in your hotel if you have an effective, integrated pest management (IPM) programme in place.
Bed bug awareness
Below are three key steps to improving awareness of potential bed bug issues: know the signs, train your staff and understand how best to deal with an infestation.
Know the signs of bed bugs
Despite the misleading name, bed bugs are not just confined to beds; they can infiltrate an entire bedroom. Tell-tale signs can include bed bug egg cases and skin remnants, blood and faecal stains (or spots) – found around and under mattress seams and at the joints of bed frames and headboards. These signs may also be spotted on the seams of sofas, chairs and soft furnishings, or where the skirting board meets the carpet. Bed bugs also hide inside electrical sockets and fittings, drawers, cupboards, bedside cabinets, in cracked or broken plaster and behind peeling wallpaper.
Train your staff to be bed bug aware
A bed bug infestation can have serious consequences for a hotel, or any other accommodation business – from damage to your reputation to impacting on your revenue. Your employees are the first line of defence in staying one step ahead of a bed bug outbreak, as they have daily contact with guests and their rooms, and are in the best place to spot any early signs of bed bugs activity.
It is vital to train your existing staff (and anyone employees) and encourage a proactive approach to spotting bed bugs, so any outbreak can be flagged and dealt with before it has a chance to spread. Rentokil’s interactive online Pest Awareness training, offers easy access to relevant information to help minimise the risks of a pest infestation. Teaching you exactly what to look for, why you need to be vigilant, and what to do as soon as you do discover a pest problem.
Be prepared to deal with a bed bug infestation
You need to have a set procedure that employees will know to follow, as soon as they suspect a bed bug issue. This will help ensure the issue is contained as quickly as possible and hopefully before it has a chance to spread. Staff should to notify management of any concerns immediately. Then they should isolate and seal the room in question, and those adjacent (as bed bugs can easily crawl through gaps in floor/ wall cavities) whilst working closely with management to inform and relocate guests.
Next, staff should remove and seal all bed linen in plastic bags to be laundered at a minimum of 60 degrees. Meanwhile, clear clutter and items from the room – placing all in sealed plastic bags to be inspected and disposed of as necessary. Once cleared the room can be vacuumed and thoroughly cleaned – ensuring the vacuum is emptied, cleaned and inspected outside to avoid transferring eggs to other rooms.
These fast, proactive measures along with ensuring everyone is bed bug aware will help hoteliers to minimise the impact of a bed bug infestation. However, a fundamental next step to eliminate bed bugs is to engage a qualified pest controller to inspect and treat all affected areas. Having a reliable expert to call at short notice is an essential part of any integrated pest management process.
Continuing bed bug research
The team who published their research in the journal Current Biology, say they hope that by studying the mutations in the bed bugs genetic code – which shows they are twice as old as entomologists previously believed – they can better understand the evolved traits that make them such effective pests and help to find more effective ways of controlling them.