There is a lot of misinformation surrounding bed bugs which can scare both hoteliers and guests, so we thought that we would debunk 10 of the most common myths surrounding them.
Bed Bug Awareness week runs every June, and to acknowledge it this year, we'll be running a series of posts over the week dedicated to all things bed bug: debunking bed bug myths, things you should know about these biting insects, and the real cost of reputational damage caused by guests going public with their bed bug horror stories.
Bed Bug Myth 1: they only infest dirty rooms
Bed bugs aren't aware of how many stars your hotel has been rated, and cleanliness is not a determining factor in where they choose to live. Instead, bed bugs are most likely to arrive in your hotel or home by hitching a ride on traveler's luggage or sneaking in with second-hand furniture. This means that they can arrive at the cleanest of homes or the smartest of hotels, at any time, with anyone.
Bed Bug Myth 2: once you have them, you have to throw the mattresses away
Totally wrong. It Is possible to get rid of bed bugs in a mattress fairly easily, so throwing away an expensive mattress is not necessary. Also, bed bugs arena constrained to the mattress: they often found on furniture, in sockets and where the skirting board meets carpet. Rather than throwing out the mattress, seal the room and avoid using it until a professional pest management service is able to treat the infestation.
Bed Bug Myth 3: if you don't have bites, you don't have bed bugs
Bed bugs may already be present in a room before they start biting the occupant. However, the consequences for your hotel could be far-reaching if you only act after a guest has been bitten. Bed bugs can survive for weeks (even months) without food, depending on their life-stage and surrounding environmental conditions. Rather be proactive and ensure that housekeeping staff scan bedrooms daily for any signs of bed bugs, rather than waiting for outbreaks to occur and if you are a frequent traveller yourself, read our previous post on how to prevent bringing bed bugs home with you when you travel.
Bed Bug Myth 4: they spread disease
We've written a fact or fiction post on this whether bed bugs spread disease, but the short answer is that - fortunately - you cannot contract any serious diseases from bed bugs. Of course, being bitten by them is horrible, and the itchy bites may even leave scars for the unfortunate few who are allergic, but you can't catch a disease from a bed bug bite.
Bed Bug Myth 5: they only live in beds
Their name is a little misleading. Bed bugs can live in furniture, walls, plug sockets and headboards to name just a few places that our experts have found them. Find out how to prevent bed bugs in your hotel.
Bed Bug Myth 6: they can fly
Nope. They can't fly, jump, and they don't have wings. They can crawl roughly 1 metre per a minute though, and are likely to spread to adjacent rooms by crawling into openings such as vents, electrical conduits of adjoining walls, or even beneath doors into hallways.
Bed Bug Myth 7: they only bite at night
Whilst bed bugs can bite you at any time of the day, night-time is more common simply because their hosts (us!) are usually lying still. Now that you know the bed bugs don't just come out at night, you may be interested in reading our bed time stories for pest enthusiasts.
Bed Bug Myth 8: bites are in groups of three
People react very differently to bed bug bites. Some have no reaction at all, whilst others can have minor swelling and itching and even develop a rash. While there are no particular patterns or groupings with bed bugs, several bites may appear together in an exposed area. Make sure your hotel guests aren't going home with any bites, read our blog on protecting your reputation.
Bed Bug Myth 9: they only live in big cities
Wrong again. Bed bugs are everywhere. However, they are attracted to places that have a high turnover of people. So, by nature, the chances of encountering them are higher in a busy city, although hostels, hotels near airports, and resorts are most at risk due to the frequency of people coming and going.
Bed Bug Myth 10: they can survive a year without food
Partially true. This would only be possible if it were an adult and if the temperature remained at 10°C the entire time. So very unlikely. In fact, even in a room with the most ideal temperatures and conditions, without food, bed bugs can only survive 100 days. Which is about 100 days too many, if you ask me.
Getting rid of bed bugs
If you are concerned that you may have bedbugs in your home or hotel, contact Rentokil for a free survey and some expert advice on what to do to prevent a re-occurrence of these biting pests.