Bed Bug Myths and Facts – The Truth About What You Should Know

Bed bugs are one of the most dreaded pests for home owners and property managers, and the number of infestations seems to grow every year. Despite this, there are still several myths concerning bed bugs that we frequently encounter. Not knowing the difference between fact and fiction can be an expensive and uncomfortable mistake, so make sure to read up on these common misconceptions about bed bugs!

MYTH: Bed bugs are a result of unsanitary conditions in the home or apartment.

FACT: Bed bug infestations have nothing to do with the cleanliness of the home or the people living there. While cleaning up excessive clutter and frequent vacuuming can prevent largescale infestations, the truth is that bed bugs don’t discriminate. Infestations can happen anywhere.

MYTH: The only way I can tell if I have bed bugs is if I am bitten; they’re too small for me to see.

FACT: Regularly inspecting your room is a good way to avoid a full-blown infestation, because adults, nymphs, and eggs are all visible to the naked eye. Adult bed bugs are about the size, shape, and color of an apple seed. They are oval shaped, flat, and about 1/4 inch in length. Nymphs are translucent and are about the size of a pinhead. Eggs are the size, shape, and color of a half grain of rice. Additionally, most people don’t actually show signs of bites, and for those who exhibit symptoms it can take two to four weeks for them to appear.

MYTH: Bed bugs only come out in the dark, sleeping with the light on will prevent me from getting bitten.

FACT: Bed bugs activity level has nothing to do with the amount of light in a room. Instead, bed bugs adapt their activity level to the schedule of the host to amplify their feeding time. For example, the bed bugs present in someone’s home who works third shift will be active during the day and inactive at night, while the opposite would be true for someone who works first shift.

MYTH: Bed bugs only live on beds, throwing out my bed will get rid of the problem.

FACT: Their name is a bit deceiving, as bed bugs live and hide in a wide variety of places besides mattresses and linens. These places include spaces behind wood trim, inside electrical boxes, in floors, and behind wallpaper. A new bed would likely be re-infested within a day. In fact, a major cause of the spread of bed bugs is the movement of infested furniture without a heavy gauge plastic encasement, and bed bugs frequently re-infest buildings through tenants bringing in used furniture that had been thrown out.

MYTH: Once I have bed bugs, I might as well throw out all of my furniture and belongings.

FACT: Almost everything can be salvaged. Most furniture and clothing can be treated.

MYTH: Bed bugs spread diseases.

FACT: While they are a huge nuisance, causing itchiness, irritation, and a loss of sleep, bed bugs are not known to spread disease.

Because bed bugs feed on blood, there’s a common belief they can transmit disease just like mosquitoes and ticks can. This partially stems from the belief mosquitoes and ticks can inject blood from other victims into new victims. But that’s not how it works. In fact, a mosquito can get the malaria parasite in their system from feeding on someone who has the virus, but the virus lives in the mosquito’s saliva. When the mosquito injects the anti-coagulant to feed on the blood, the saliva itself transmits the disease.

Bed bugs tend to have a very confined area in which they feed. They don’t have wings, so they don’t fly all over the neighborhood feasting on other people and risking catching a virus or disease. Thus, bed bugs are not known to transmit diseases like other blood-sucking insects. The biggest problem they inflict upon people is psychological in nature. Being feasted upon at night is something that disturbs most people and can cause loss of sleep.

All that being said, scratching bed bug bites does increase the possibility of putting bacteria from dirty fingernails into the wound, but the risk is minimal.

MYTH: If I am being bitten in my bed, sleeping in a different room of my house will offer some relief or will leave the bed bugs without a food source.

FACT: Bed bugs will follow their food source, and this would just result in spreading the infestation to more rooms of your home, making treatment more difficult. They are likely living or hiding in belongings that you would take to the new room as well, or they can migrate on their own. Alternatively, bed bugs can go into a dormant state and live up to nine months without feeding, only to reemerge when you reenter the room.

MYTH: I can take care of the problem with over the counter products.

FACT: We strongly recommend not using a DIY treatment. Nearly 90% of bed bugs are genetically resistant to common household insecticides. Only professionals can access the products and training necessary to control bed bugs, and an over-the-counter insecticide could cause the bed bugs to disperse to multiple rooms, making effective treatment more difficult.

MYTH: Once I’ve gotten the infestation treated, I’m in the clear.

FACT: Bed bugs can re-infest a building just like the original infestation. You still need to remain vigilant and frequently inspect critical areas. As with other pest issues, it is extremely beneficial to be as proactive as possible and contact a pest control professional as soon as possible.

Bed Bug Infestation At Senior Apartment Building

The Challenge

For four years, a 12 story, 171-unit senior apartment building was dealing with a severe bed bug infestation in over 50 percent of the units.

To initially combat the infestation, the building owner purchased commercial-grade heat units, employing his maintenance staff to perform the treatments. He also upgraded his electrical system to meet voltage requirements for the units. In addition to purchasing heat units, as a secondary precaution, the manager hired a pest control company to perform chemical applications. All of this was done at a significant cost to the building owner.

After seeing very little improvement with the DIY heat treatments and chemical applications, and with the infestation rapidly spreading, the building manager attended Batzner Pest Control’s Bed Bug Seminar. Following the seminar, the building manager contacted Batzner Pest Control to inspect the building and devise a plan for the treatment of the bed bug infestation.

The Inspection

The building management was aware of bed bug activity in 39 units. After Batzner Pest Control did a full building inspection, it was discovered that 90 units had bed bug activity. During the inspection, Batzner Pest Control found evidence of wide spread, do-it-yourself treatments (dusts, sprays, foggers, bombs) being applied by tenants, which were ineffective and ultimately contributed to the infestation spreading.

“Due to the resiliency they’ve built up over the years, bed bugs tend to scatter when tenants use self-treatments,” said Randy Rupert, Bed Bug Team Leader. “And, when bed bugs scatter, they can easily travel from unit to unit by way of pipes, electrical wires, venting, under doors and under baseboards. That’s often how an infestation like this can spread so quickly.”

Prior to treatments, Rupert gave two educational presentations, one for the tenants and one for the staff.

Offering a brief summary of his presentations, Rupert said, “Pre-treatment preparation is really important, this way tenants and staff understand the process and how their partnership is imperative for a successful resolution. Other important topics such as stopping self-treatments, alerting management right away, and basic bed bug biology were also covered. My main goal is to prevent a re-infestation. If the tenants and staff understand what to look for, then the likelihood of an infestation recurring is greatly reduced.”

The Solution

In November 2015, Batzner Pest Control’s bed bug team began an aggressive chemical treatment program targeting the infested units. To ensure the bed bugs weren’t moving from an infested unit to an adjacent one, all units adjacent to an active unit were inspected, prior to the infested units being treated.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques were applied in conjunction with chemical treatments. The service specialist placed active and passive bed bug monitors, vacuumed, and used alternative treatments. Alternative treatments may involve bagging an infested, sensitive item, such as a laptop, in a bag with some fumigation strips.

Building staff supplied box spring and mattress encasements for all infested beds. They also laundered all bed linens from the infested units. Tenants followed Batzner’s pre-treatment preparation, kept building management informed about bed bug activity, and allowed access to all areas of their unit.

“This kind of cooperation is vital,” Rupert explains, “without it, it’s unlikely the infestation would have been brought under control.”

Timeline

Rupert attributes a wavering three percent infestation rate to new tenants. “As tenants come and go, bed bugs tend to hitch a ride, spreading the infestation.” Rupert said. “However, just this year, the building manager implemented pro-active inspections to target all new move-ins, which will help prevent the likelihood of another wide-spread infestation like the one in 2015.”

Customer Benefits
  • Manageable costs: The apartment building is paying almost 75 percent less for bed bug control at the end of 2017 compared to costs initially incurred in 2015.
  • Improved living/working conditions: The tenants of this building are living a better quality of life. The staff is working in a less stressful and safer environment.
  • Restored reputation: The building had a reputation for being infested. Their reputation has now been restored and will remain in good standing with their tenants while on our proactive bed bug treatment program.
  • Education: The staff and tenants are much more educated on bed bugs. Tenants are reporting activity to management much faster. These types of actions have helped keep new incidents and the spread of bed bugs to more manageable levels.
  • Proactive approach: The building staff now schedules proactive inspections, new move-in inspections and adjacent unit inspections, and single treatments when bed bug activity is reported.

Rupert warns, “Infestations can get out of hand when no one is told about the first incident. If you’re waking up with several bites, something is going on. Don’t wait, report it immediately. And, have your place inspected by a professional. Don’t try to handle the situation yourself, it’ll cost you more in the long run.”

How to Protect Yourself from Bed Bugs in Hotels

As expert hitchhikers, bed bugs are prevalent just about everywhere in the world. They are known as hitchhikers because they find their way into luggage, seams, pockets, and under collars, allowing them to hitch a ride undetected and spread from location to location. With due diligence before you travel, you can greatly reduce your risk of being bitten, or worse, bringing them home.

High-end Hotels Can Have Bed Bugs
Do not assume that a high-end establishment is exempt from bed bug issues. Unlike cockroaches, bed bugs have nothing to do with cleanliness. Bed bugs are attracted to three main things: warmth, blood, and carbon dioxide. While cleanliness is a good start to catching in potential bed bug infestations, it is not a foolproof way of prevention. From five star hotels to run down hostels, bed bugs can be found wherever their hosts take them. If they are not discovered and eradicated, they continue to hitchhike rides on the next unsuspecting lodger and the cycle continues.

Research Before You Book
RESEARCH on the web. Check out public databases such as bedbugreports.com, registry.bedbugs.net, or bedbugregistry.com for user-submitted bed bug reports in the U.S. and Canada. Also search the city name with the term ‘bed bugs’ to see if news stories come up calling out infestations.

Choose A Hotel That Follows Bed Bug Protocols
Before booking a room online, CALL first. Ask if they have bed bug protocols in place, from precautions to ensure pest-free rooms to an action plan if something is discovered. If they avoid the question, reconsider booking a room there. An establishment that has a policy in place will be happy to share it with you.

Print out our Bed Bug Safety Check List for pre, during and post vacation precautionary advice.

Check out our blogs, videos and handouts in our Resources area for additional bed bug information. Call us if you suspect you have brought bed bugs home with you—our trained bed bug specialists will offer support and direction on your options.

Signs That You Have a Bed Bug Problem and Treatment Options

With endless opportunities for bed bugs to easily travel between apartments, across cities and even around the world, it’s no wonder that these well-travelled, little bugs sparks fear in many. Discovering bed bugs brings a wave and range of emotions in people. Recently, I witnessed this emotion firsthand when a friend of mine (I’ll call him “Dave”) expressed concerns that his apartment had possibly been exposed to bed bugs. Having a friend with a pest control background, Dave immediately contacted me for advice. I explained to Dave the actions he should avoid taking as well as the inspection options he would need to consider in the coming days.

Bed Bug Infestation Don’ts
  • Do not start sleeping in different parts of the house or move items room to room. Once people identify that their bed is infested, they will often begin sleeping in a different bedroom or on the couch. If you move to a different area of the home to sleep, the bed bugs will find you. Changing where you sleep is likely to promote the movement of bugs throughout the structure and make it more difficult to eliminate the infestation.
  • Do not temporarily move out of your residence. Even if you move out of your home, you risk bringing bed bugs with you and infesting a new area. Upon returning home they will be waiting to greet you. Remember, bed bugs can survive many months, and in some cases up to a year or more, without feeding. Although it sounds like a grim choice, it is best to continue sleeping in the infested area until the bed bugs are eliminated.
  • Do not remove items from your residence. For many people, the immediate reaction to a bed bug infestation is to throw the infested items away. This is unnecessary and could possibly make the problem worse.
    • As items are carried through the home to be discarded, bed bugs can fall off of the item and be spread throughout the home to uninfested areas.
    • You are eliminating the harborages for these bed bugs and disturbing them, which may cause the bed bugs to find other places to live and spread the problem.
    • Discarded items are often picked up by other people, spreading the problem to new areas.
  • Do not use outdoor pesticides or DIY fumigation inside your home. Bed bugs are sneaky and adaptable creatures, which is why some homeowners may resort to drastic measures to remove them. Do not use outdoor pesticides in your home or try DIY fumigation techniques. The improper use of pesticides may cause severe harm to people and pets and may do more damage than good. Most commercially available pesticides are simply repellents and may only spread the bed bugs to remote areas and make the problem much more difficult to solve. Because of this, it will be hard for you to be thorough when treating the bugs.

***A Bed Bug Infestation Tip***
If you discover you have bed bugs, it is important to keep living as normal until treatment takes place. Cassadie Luedke, Batzner Bed Bug Service Specialist, says, “It is similar to when you get a cold. Yes, you can spread it around and give it to other people you come in contact with, but you have to keep living your life. And, just like cold prevention, you can also take steps to prevent spreading bed bugs. Before you plan to leave the house, put anything you are taking with you in the dryer (assuming it is dryer safe) for at least 30 minutes. When the dryer cycle is complete, get dressed and immediately leave the house.”

Visual Bed Bug Inspection

One of the very first things someone can do to confirm they have bed bugs is to complete a visual inspection on their own. There are several places where bed bugs hide and evidence they leave behind that you can look for.

  • Thoroughly inspect the entire room with a flashlight, including behind the headboard, under lights, and inside dressers, drawers, sofas and chairs.
  • Pull back the sheets and inspect the headboard, mattress seams and box springs, particularly at the corners, for stains, spots or shed bed bug skins.
  • Look for small, white translucent eggs, cast skins and inky-dark fecal stains on the mattress.
  • Look for little dots of blood or black specs that look like mold or ground pepper.
  • Look for the bugs themselves, they are about the size of an apple seed and you might find them in corners or the seams of bedding.
  • In seams of chairs and couches, between cushions, in the folds of curtains
  • In drawer joints
  • Under loose wall paper and wall hangings
  • In electrical outlets and appliances
  • At the junction where the wall and the ceiling meet

If you are unsure or don’t feel confident conducting a visual inspection yourself, a professional can assist with a visual inspection.

Canine Bed Bug Inspection

Using canines to perform a search for bed bugs is efficient when several areas or rooms require inspection because it is less time consuming than humans searching. Using their incredible sense of smell, canines are able to detect and find live bed bugs within minutes of searching. Despite their name, bed bugs don’t limit themselves to bedding. These pests conceal themselves in the depths of furniture, in upholstery, behind wallpaper and baseboards, inside walls, and behind outlets, light switches, and cable and phone jacks. Their ability to hide makes detecting them quite a challenge. That’s why so many people are turning to dogs for help.

Benefits of Bed Bug Sniffing Canines
  • The keen sense of smell in dogs makes them experts on bed bug detection with a very high percentage of accuracy. They can detect live bed bug scents through mattresses, inside walls and furniture. While bed bugs may lurk in nooks and crannies that are out of sight of humans, they cannot hide from a dog’s sensitive nose. Thanks to their keen affinity for scent, dogs can literally sniff out the presence of both bed bugs and their eggs.
  • In addition to accuracy, bed bug canines are extremely fast and efficient. Bed bug canines can easily find the areas where bed bugs reside, and detect them quicker than their human counterparts. Faster detection can speed up the treatment process and allow you to get back to business as usual. Large hotels and other facilities can be covered in a fraction of the time it takes to complete a visual inspection, giving owners peace of mind that the facility is free of bed bugs.
Dave’s Inspection

One of Batzner’s Canine Handlers and canines, Simon, arrived at Dave’s house the day after he called me. Dave was in complete awe that a dog could detect the tiny and often unseen bed bugs just by sniffing – and to do it so thoroughly nonetheless! After sniffing their way through the entire apartment, Simon’s inspection came out negative for bed bugs. Through my friend’s brief bed bug scare, I got a close look at how it feels to have the looming possibility of bed bugs, and Dave got a first-hand look into how a professional goes about handling a bed bug situation. It was gratifying to give Dave relief from his bed bug stress.

Important Note About Bed Bug Treatment

When bed bugs are confirmed, call a bed bug control professional. Bed bugs are NOT a do-it-yourself pest problem. The strongest defense against a bed bug infestation is with the help of a professional pest control company. Pest specialists are trained to identify the signs of a bed bugs and how to exterminate them quickly and safely. They can also recommend bed bug prevention techniques so you can avoid them in the future.

Bed Bugs: Where They Come from and How You Get Them

The sheer mention of bed bugs gives many people the creeps. The thought of them crawling on our skin and feeding on our blood while we’re asleep sends shivers down our spines! It doesn’t help that in in recent years, the number of bed bug incidents has risen. So this begs the question, where do bed bugs come from and how do you get a bed bug infestation?

Let us break it down.

Bed Bug Travel Motivation

Bed bugs are blood-eating insects. They require blood to breed and blood meals to survive; but unlike mosquitoes, they can’t fly to get to their food. And, unlike ticks, they don’t have the convenience of living on a host. Bed bugs must find another way to get the food they need.

Where Do Bed Bugs Come From?

Bed bugs can be found all over the world and dwell almost exclusively with humans. While it is often assumed that they come from hotels and motels, the list of places bed bugs have been found is much more extensive, including the following:

  • Federal buildings
  • Police stations
  • Libraries
  • Theaters
  • A friend’s house
  • The home of a family member
  • Your workplace
  • Laundromats
How Do Bed Bugs Spread?
  1. Global Travel
    Traveling is one of bed bugs favorite things to do, and they are amazing hitchhikers! While traveling on an airplane, train, bus or any other type of public transportation, it’s possible you could be exposed to bed bugs. Bed bugs can catch a ride in or on luggage, bags, purses or even clothing, allowing them to spread anywhere humans settle.

    Hotels and other overnight facilities are giant magnets for bed bugs due to the high amount of human traffic, providing bed bugs with countless opportunities to hitch a ride to an array of locations. If you spend the night in a hotel, motel, or resort, no matter how clean and well kept, be sure to do an inspection for bed bugs. Hotels are at just as much risk of obtaining a bed bug problem as they are of spreading one. Bed bugs in one room can easily move to other rooms through vents and walls, which creates serious problems. If you work in hospitality, be proactive and stay alert for bed bugs – this could help you avoid a public relations issue.

  2. Shared Living Spaces
    Bed bug migration, especially in shared housing situations like condos, apartments and dormitories, is common since they can crawl over 100 feet in a night. They are known to go through tiny cracks in walls, through connected vents, or even in the seams of floor boards! Of course, they can also travel the old-fashioned way: simply crawling out a front door, down the hall and into another apartment.
  3. Yard Sales
    Everyone likes a bargain, but beware on your next cruise through a flea market or yard sale. Bed bugs are often introduced into a home on items already infested. If a piece of furniture is infested with bed bugs, especially pregnant females or their eggs, there is a high possibility that the new owner will have a bed bug problem on their hands. This includes used clothing, pre-owned mattresses, and other types of furniture. The best way to avoid this is to not buy used items– but if you do, check it for evidence of bed bugs before you take the items inside your home. Do not use furniture that appears to be infested. It will save you a big headache in the future!
  1. House Guests
    Hosting family and friends from out of town is something many of us do at some point. When guests come to stay at your home, they may unknowingly bring bed bugs with them. The bugs could come from your guest’s home or they could have been picked up while traveling. Because college dorms are also a haven for this pest, students returning home for holidays or the summer may bring home bed bugs hidden in their belongings. A good precaution is to wash all guest bedding on the hottest temperature once they have departed.

How to Tell If You Have Bed Bugs

Unfortunately, it isn’t that easy to spot bed bugs in your home, as they often dwell in areas out of plain sight, only vacating their hiding spots to grab a bite to eat from human hosts. They also tend to feed on you when you’re sleeping, which is not very conducive to catching their activity.

The first sign you might have a bed bug problem can be waking up to find bites on your body. However, it is important to understand that identifying bed bug bites can be a bit difficult as everyone reacts differently to them. To make things even more complicated, not everyone reacts to the bites.

Additional Bed Bug Evidence

Aside from discovering suspicious bites, there are also some signs that you might have a bed bug problem. They are:

  • Dark/black stains around your mattress and bed frame, particularly around the joints and slats
  • Small dark blood spots on your bedding
  • Live bed bugs on furniture joints and skirting boards
Getting Rid of Bed Bugs

It is important to understand that bed bugs in your home or business is not something to be ashamed of; they are not a result of uncleanliness or lack of proper sanitation. They are hitchhikers and opportunists simply on the lookout for their next blood meal. Embarrassment should not prevent you from seeking help from bed bug professionals. This is a pest problem that will not go away unless treated properly.

If you have seen signs indicating bed bugs, reach out to a pest professional as soon as possible. Delaying treatment of an infestation results in a more difficult treatment process. Eliminating bed bugs can be tough, so consult with a professional who knows how to get rid of them properly.

If you are looking for assistance to control bed bugs in your home or businesses, contact the experts at Batzner today.

Bed Bugs in Healthcare Facilities: Hospitals, Doctor’s Offices, Retirement Housing

Whether you are in a hospital, doctor’s office, retirement community or some other form of healthcare facility, you expect things to be clean. Hospitals and doctor offices, in particular, are expected to have a sterile environment where beds, patient areas, medical equipment and other important components of patient care are kept clean and free from insects.

Why are healthcare facilities a bed bug risk?

Because hospitals, hospices, elder care facilities and group homes experience significant human traffic carrying personal belongings and host sleeping people in multiple rooms, they are at high risk for bed bug infestations. These characteristics make them places where bed bug populations can grow, spread and impact staff, visitors and patients.

Getting rid of bed bugs in hospitals

Bed bugs are hard to get rid of in any scenario because they are very good at hiding and are very tiny. Unless you are trained to search all potential bed bug hiding places, you could easily miss a few of them. Bed bugs hide within the folds of a mattress, cracks in a piece of wooden furniture or behind photos, pictures, within light fixtures or in electrical sockets. This makes it hard to find them all and missing a couple can cause a re-infestation. Just when you think you’ve gotten rid of the bed bugs, they can come back and start an infestation all over again.

The bad news is there is no real way to prevent these bugs from entering your facility. However, quick and effective interventions can stop the spread and reduce the risks of a serious infestation in patient rooms, lounges, waiting rooms, or anywhere else in your healthcare facility. Because bed bug infestations in healthcare facilities happen often, managers invest heavily in pest control treatment and prevention programs.

Develop a bed bug treatment plan

Because bed bugs are so hard to find and require special tools and training, it’s best to develop a bed bug prevention and treatment plan for your hospital, doctor’s office or facility. More than one treatment is typically necessary to fully get rid of a bed bug infestation and prevent them from returning. In urgent cases, Batzner uses steam to get rid of infestations and turn rooms around quickly. The best bet for those running a healthcare facility is to have professionals set up a treatment plan and provide reliable technology and methods to detect, remove and prevent bed bugs.

If a facility experiences periodic introduction of bed bugs, a regular detection program with the help of a pest management professional should be considered. Inspection and monitoring should include the areas most prone to bed bugs such as lounges, patient and family waiting areas, storage areas for housekeeping and furniture, and laundries. Bed bug canines are especially useful at monitoring and preventing bed bug infestations.

What can health care facility managers do to prevent bed bug concerns?

It’s important to understand that bed bugs are attracted to a host, and are transported primarily by people and their belongings. Therefore, populations of bed bugs in a facility have more do with the patients, visitors, vendors and staff of an organization than the structure itself.

  • Facility managers should have a published bed bug protocol, and staff should be trained to recognize bed bugs and evidence of their presence.
  • Intake procedures to screen incoming clients and bag their belongings may also help. Items suspected of infestation should be contained until they can be removed, sanitized or disposed of.
  • Helpful preventative strategies include regular vacuuming or steam cleaning areas prone to bed bugs, such as under and around beds, upholstered furniture and at wall/floor junctions.
  • Managers should ensure there is not clutter, cracks, crevices and holes near beds.
  • Waiting rooms, visitor lounges, common areas, laundry rooms, and equipment such as wheelchairs and food carts, should be regularly inspected for bed bugs.
Professional bed bug detection and treatment options

The pest control company hired should have trained specialists that know how to seek out the hiding places where bed bugs hide. They should use the latest technology and stay up to date on new methods of detection. By partnering with a reliable pest control provider, you can focus on running other aspects of your healthcare facility and not have to worry about pests and pest control.

Whether through the use of bed bug dogs or other detection methods, pest control companies like Batzner Pest Control can quickly confirm infestations. Once identified, your pest control partner should use methods like heat treatments or conventional treatments to get rid of the bed bug infestation.

Your reputation depends on bed bug control

The last thing you need is a report of bed bugs or other pests in your healthcare facility and patient rooms becoming public. Your reputation can be damaged, which is why it’s best to get a pest control treatment plan in place before an infestation takes hold.

If you run a healthcare facility and worry about a bed bug infestation, contact the experts in bed bug control at Batzner Pest Control for a consultation today.

Hitchhiking Bed Bugs: Healthcare, Education, Hotels and Apartments

Avoid Bringing Them Home with You

No matter where you travel or stay, bed bugs are everywhere. Therefore, the best way to avoid these nocturnal, blood-sucking pests is to know what to look for, where to look and how to avoid bringing them back home.

What do bed bugs look like?

The oval-shaped bugs are relatively flat, so they can easily hide in a variety of crevices in close proximity to humans. Bed bugs are typically less than ¼” long, have six legs and are brown or reddish-brown in appearance. Their unusual coloring comes from blood, which can leave brownish-black or reddish-brown stains as the blood is digested then excreted onto box springs, sheets, moldings, carpeting, furniture, clothing, etc.

Where do bed bugs come from?

While it may seem like bed bugs appear out of thin air, the truth is they are just really good hitchhikers. While this is good news for them, it is bad news for everyone else. It means they can literally be found anywhere people go. In public areas, bed bugs can be brought in by anyone. Newly introduced bed bugs tend to wander about, looking for harborage near a host. People passing through these areas can pick them up unknowingly, transporting them to a new location. Here is a list of some of the most common locations bed bugs are found:

Government Buildings / Social Services Facilities Office Buildings Libraries / Theaters
Used Furniture / Thrift Shop Hotels Schools / Daycares
Temporary Housing / Shelters Public Transportation Hospitals/ Clinics
Multi-Unit Housing / Dorms Nursing Homes Laundromats

How can I get bed bugs?

There are four main areas where people work or visit each day that are considered “high risk” for bed bugs. In these areas, it is important to implement an awareness program to help prevent the spread of bed bugs. Everyone involved needs to work together, including healthcare professionals, housekeeping, maintenance staff, patients, residents, family members, teachers students, and school administrators. Bed bugs are less likely become an infestation when proper protocols are followed.

1. Medical areas prone to bed bugs
Long-term care, dialysis centers, areas frequently visited by the same patient
Maternity units
Emergency departments (transport vehicles)
Waiting rooms
Laundromats
Rented equipment or equipment from other facilities
2. Educational areas prone to bed bugs

Bed bug infestations with sustaining populations in classrooms are rare because schools are poor environments for bed bug survival and reproduction. Periodic introductions occur more often due to the increasing frequency of bed bugs in homes.

School buses
Nap Areas
Play Areas
Lockers / jacket & backpack storage
Desks
3. Dorms and multi-unit properties prone to bed bugs

College dorms and apartment complexes are hot spots for bed bugs to spread rapidly.

Suitcases should be fully inspected for signs of bed bugs prior to packing, especially if used for travel
Inspect secondhand or rental furniture
Before unpacking, inspect the mattress and additional furniture in the room, such as sofas or chairs
Invest in a mattress encasement
4. Hotel areas prone to bed bugs

Hotels are just as much at risk of obtaining a bed bug problem as they are of spreading one. Bed bugs in one room can easily move to other rooms, which creates serious problems. If you work in hospitality, be proactive and stay alert for bed bugs – this could help you avoid a public relations issue.

Mattress
Nightstand
Chairs
Sofas (especially pull-outs)

Keys to a Successful Action Plan

In the areas above, it is important to implement an awareness program to help prevent the spread of bed bugs. Everyone involved needs to work together, including healthcare professionals, housekeeping and maintenance staff, patients, residents, teachers and school administers. Bed bugs are unlikely to cause infestation when proper steps are taken.

  • Quickly respond to a bed bug report
  • Gain control of the situation
  • Implement a bed bug awareness and education program
  • Be proactive