Pest control technician spraying beed and room as part of a professional bed bugs teatment

Common Pests in Hotels

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Signs of Common Pests in Hotels

Your hotel is an attractive target for many common pests, looking for food, shelter and warmth. It is difficult to overestimate the impact of a bed bug infestation on your hotel’s reputation in the eyes of guests, potential customers and employees. Those bitten by these small, crawling parasites may have an allergic reaction or secondary infection from scratching the bites. But bed bugs are not the only pests that can pose a risk to your hotel business and reputation. Pests can enter any type of hotel establishment (some can unknowingly be brought in via guests and their luggage) so it's essential for every hotel to have effective procedures for preventing, monitoring and controlling pests quickly.

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Flies may just be a nuisance in reception areas, but they give a poor first impression when your guests arrive. There are some simple steps you can take to reduce this risk, such as removing fresh fruit or unwrapped mints in bowls from the front desk. Flies in other locations within your hotel such as your restaurant, café, food preparation and bar areas pose a much more serious health risk. The main pest fly species are the housefly and the fruit fly.

House flies have the potential to spread diseases like Salmonella and E. coli. They are attracted to almost any food, which they contaminate on landing on it, with matter picked up on their body, from regurgitating digestive juices and from defecating on the food. Fruit flies feed on ethanol produced by over ripe, fermenting fruit and vegetables, so are attracted to fermenting, sugary liquids. They have the potential to cross contaminate food with pathogens from unsanitary locations they’ve frequented such as rubbish bins and drains. Also when the tiny fruit fly larvae hatch they feed on the over-ripened food, and if you inadvertently consumed by your guests, can cause discomfort and diarrhoea. Grease and organic residue in drainage areas are primary feeding and breeding sites for drain flies (also known as filter, sewage or moth flies).

Therefore effective fly control in such sensitive areas is essential not just for your guests’ wellbeing but also for your reputation. A number of species of fly that are attracted to food products, including food waste, are pests in hotels. House flies, fruit flies, drain flies and blow flies are attracted to the food odours from kitchens and food preparation areas. Health & Safety and Environmental Health inspectors will raise concerns if flies are found infesting areas where food is prepared, processed or served.

Fly prevention

An important way to control flies is by using standard food hygiene practices to deny them access to food sources, including food waste. These include:

  • adequate cleaning in food preparation, storage and serving areas
  • checking the state of food supplies as they are delivered and in storage
  • hygienic management of food waste, including refuse collection areas - see our Rentokil Fly Box for external areas
  • keep drains clean and free of organic matter
  • maintain barriers to flies, by using fly screens on windows and vents and keeping doors closed
  • use UV light traps to eliminate flies in food handling and storage areas — see our Rentokil Lumnia range of LED fly killers


In hotels, cockroaches can infest kitchens, restaurants, bars, public washrooms in the lobby or bathrooms in the guest rooms. They are primarily nocturnal, preferring to stay in a dark, secluded harbourage during daytime, whilst searching for food at night. They take shelter in small dark places in furniture, equipment, food packaging, cracks and crevices in the building structure, and in hidden areas such as along pipework and cables and inside drain pipes and sewers. There are several species of cockroach (German, Oriental, American and Brown banded cockroach species are common to the UK) with slightly differing habitat preferences, but generally most like warm and humid places.

Pest cockroaches can spread various diseases from Salmonella and Dysentery to Gastro-enteritis and are a health hazard. They eat almost anything and can consume and contaminate food goods, leather, paper, fabrics, plastics and packaging as well as damaging your health and hygiene reputation.  Kitchen and dining areas face a considerable food contamination risk from this disease-spreading insect due their habits of:

  • feeding on foul contaminated matter like mould, rotting food, faecal matter in sewers, from rodents and birds, and animal carcasses
  • contaminating their environment by defecating where they run, frequently expelling saliva on surfaces to ‘taste’ their environment, and discarding cast skins and egg cases
  • carrying pathogenic microorganisms, such as Salmonella, Staphylococcus, Listeria, E. coli and parasitic worms
  • producing allergens from their droppings and shed skins

Cockroach prevention

Cockroaches can feed on almost anything organic, including cardboard, and on tiny amounts of foods and liquids, therefore good sanitation is the key to prevention. This includes:

  • good cleaning practices in food storage and preparation areas to eliminate any residues on surfaces, including floors
  • store food in cockroach-proof containers
  • maintain drainage system in good condition
  • implement waste handling processes to remove waste to suitable containers in a well maintained waste storage area
  • implement a good inspection regime to quickly identify the presence of cockroaches e.g. in deliveries, particularly in cardboard packaging.

Our Insect Monitor Unit (MMU) can discreetly monitor sensitive locations within your establishment and will indicate if these insects are present. Suitable for even highly sensitive environments, our chemical-free ‘heat treatment’ can resolve cockroach problems effectively. Find more information on cockroach control for your business.


Rats and mice are attracted to hotels by the food supplies in kitchens, restaurants, food storage and waste areas. Populations can quickly build up if there are poor food and waste handling practices. It is not just guests’ reactions to rodents that can damage a hotel business; rodents can contaminate food and surfaces they run along with a range of diseases, including Salmonella, E. coli, Leptospirosis (Weil’s disease) Hantavirus and Rat bite fever. They cause stock loss and can damage packaging, fixtures, equipment and even wiring.

Ensuring good housekeeping standards back of house (in staff areas as well as kitchen and food storage locations) is as essential as in guest-facing areas of your hotel to deter rodents. Hotel staff need to be trained how to spot the distinctive signs of rats and mice infestations including:

  • rodent droppings
  • smudge (or grease) marks along walls, piping and electrical cables
  • gnaw marks around holes in the building and on foodstuffs and packaging

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Rodent prevention

The most important means of preventing rodents, is eliminating their access to food, water and shelter inside and outside the hotel. Standard food hygiene practices in the food delivery, storage, preparation, serving and disposal areas area essential to deny rats and mice access to sustenance. Doorways, vents, windows and entry points for pipes and cables, should be designed to have no gaps and maintained to prevent holes forming around them. Rodents, especially the young, can squeeze through tiny gaps — a pencil-sized gap under a door is enough for a small mouse to get in. Traps and poisons can be used to control them, but these are governed by various legislation, including food law and also environmental, wildlife, health and safety laws. Hoteliers should use professional pest controllers to ensure legal compliance and effective control, helping to protect your brand reputation.

Rentokil’s PestConnect system provides a humane, safe and hygienic way to eliminate, monitor and prevent mice and rats from infesting your property. Our online connected system, provides continuous 24/7 monitoring, rapid response and protection against rodents. When a RADAR trap unit is activated by a mouse, a text message is sent to a Rentokil technician alerting them immediately to the issue. They then visit your premise to deal with the mouse activity, reset the system, investigate and raise any remedial recommendations associated with the rodent intrusion.

Fleas and Clothes Moths

Whether you launder bed linen, towels etc.. In-house or outsource it, laundry is one of the easier opportunities for clothes moths, carpet beetles, bed bugs and fleas to spread through your guest rooms. Fleas can be a major annoyance to hotel guests because of their irritating bites, and are a potential health risk as they host bacteria, viruses and parasites that they pass on. Fleas prefer animal hosts to feed and breed on, but several types can bite people including cat, dog, bird and rat fleas. Pest animals can also bring fleas into your hotel, including birds and rats nesting near or within the building. When the host animal leaves the nest, fleas will seek new hosts elsewhere in the vacinity. Flea eggs hatch into larvae in 2-14 days, which feed on any organic matter, especially adult flea faeces in the nesting area of the host animal, vegetable matter and dead insects. Moths will lay eggs in dark and rarely disturbed areas of your hotel, such as wardrobes or cupboards, where linen, clothes and other textiles are stored. Moths don’t actually eat the fabric, their purpose is to reproduce, it’s the moth larvae that do all the damage to carpets, curtains and upholstery which can become very costly. Treat any warning signs of clothes moths or fleas seriously, and act quickly.

Fleas and Clothes Moths Prevention

The presence of any of these insects, especially biting insects may well distress your guests and could harm your reputation. It's difficult to prevent fleas from entering a hotel, but they can be controlled by having a suitable management policy, including:

  • Identify the flea species and determine the source of infection
  • Carefully removal of infested bedding and laundet on a hot cycle or dispose of
  • Consistant vacuuming regime around the infested areas

We offer effective solutions to allow flea infestations to be dealt with swiftly helping to protect your staff and customers from flea bites and reducing the risk of low staff morale.

  • Highly effective sprays or chemical-free heat treatment to target your specific situation and effectively eliminate your flea infestation.
  • Rentokil Flea Riddance and Monitoring - using a combination of targeted spray treatments and innovative flea trap monitoring units.

Our cost effective Clothes Moth Riddance package offers an Integrated Pest Management approach to specifically control moths and larvae, using effective and tailored products and services to quickly and effectively control damaging clothes moth activity. 

Bed Bugs

Evidence suggests that an increase in bed bugs can be related to a global increase in international travel (bed bugs are known to travel in luggage or clothing). Hotels are at risk of both accumulating and spreading bed bug infestations due to the high volumes of people that pass through their establishments. It is dificult to overstimate the impact of a bed bug infetation on a hotel's reputation in the eyes of guests, potential customers and emplyees. However, hoteliers can help protect themselves from bed bug issues through integrated pest management and training. Your housekeeping team are the first line of defence, so need to know how to spot the early signs of bed bugs allowing you to act swiftly on any potential pest threats, protecting both your hotel guests and your brand reputation.

Bed bugs are attracted to a host by warmth, carbon dioxide and various body chemicals. They need to stay near potential hosts to be successful at getting a blood meal. If they are starved, however, they will crawl some distance and spread from room to room, both horizontally and vertically to other floors in search of a blood feed. Bed bugs are mainly nocturnal, crawling out of their shelters in the dark and using their sensors to find a warm, breathing body. They crawl on beds and feed where bare skin touches the bedding, which is usually face, neck, hands and arms, leaving a distinctive line of bites on the skin. Bed bugs need only 5-10 minutes of undisturbed feeding to be full. With an adequate food supply, a female bed bug can lay 200-500 eggs per month. The eggs hatch and the young mature into adults over about 5 weeks, which can lead to a rapid increase in population if not treated quickly.

Bed bug eggs are a common sign of an infestation. When inspecting rooms, housekeeping should look for bed bug eggs as well as nymphs and shed skins. Bed bug eggs are laid in batches of between 1 and 5 eggs. They are approximately 1 mm in length and are a grain like milky white colour. Bed bug eggs are usually laid singly or in clusters within cracks and crevices such as the joints of furniture and between floors, walls and skirting boards. Another sign to be aware of are stains, as after bed bugs has fed they will often defecate. Their excrement can be found in the form of dark/black stains located on the mattress and surrounding bedding. Use our infograpnic as a reference and quick reminder of the bedroom areas you should check for signs of bed bugs.

Bed bugs in hotels graphic

Bed Bug Prevention

Bed bugs are the most difficult pest to prevent from entering a hotel because they are often brought onto premises unknowingly by guests themselves or sometimes through infected furniture or laundry — even the cleanest establishments can suffer from an infestation. Bed bugs can survive for several months without feeding so can easily be transported between premises in luggage over several trips. The key to preventing bed bugs affecting your guests is to identify the problem as early as possible and take steps to eliminate them as soon as your house keeping staff spot the first signs. A common misconception is that bed bugs are only found on beds and mattresses. They will hide in small cracks and crevices close to the bed, in headboards, in skirting boards, light fittings, sockets, picture frames, bedding, upholstered furnishings or bedside cabinets. When checking a hotel room for signs of bed bugs, housekeeping staff should also carefully check:

  • Along the seams, inside covers and around the zips of sofas and chairs
  • Where furniture, skirting boards and carpets meet the walls
  • Along the seals of doors and drawers as well as the joints
  • Around ornaments such as lamps and picture frames

Prevention of bed bugs requires an integrated pest management approach, to detect and eliminate them economically, with minimal disruption to guests, staff or property, and the least impact on the environment. The best bed bug prevention strategy is to implement suitable measures to prevent an infestation taking hold:

  • good maintenance practices to remove access to harbourage in the building structure and fittings
  • use of bed bug monitors to detect their presence
  • include checking for bed bugs in your standard room cleaning procedures
  • have a procedure in place for handling bed bug complaints from guests

Rentokil’s Entotherm heat treatment is a chemical-free method of controlling bed bugs — and other insects such as cockroaches and moths — through the targeted application of heat. It can be applied to a whole room to ensure that structural areas that are difficult to access with traditional chemical sprays are effectively treated. It is a safe and highly effective bed bug treatment.

Our interactive online learning portal myLearning offers easy access to relevant, information about pest such as bed bugs, cockroaches, rodents etc.. to help you and your staff minimise the risks of a pest infestation.Teaching you exactly what you need to look for, why you need to be vigilant and what to do as soon as you do discover a pest problem.

Entotherm Heat Treatment

Chemical-free Heat Treatment to eliminate all types of insect pests including bed bugs.