Modern clean mattress without bed bugs in room

Contributed by Dr. Nancy Troyano, Rentokil North America

According to the U.S. Travel Association, over two-thirds of Americans plan to travel between the months of May and October. As hotel and lodging facilities eagerly welcome back guests the last thing these properties need is to have operations interrupted by bed bug infestations.

It’s nearly impossible to stop bed bugs from checking in with guests. As expert hitchhikers, bed bugs attach to luggage, personal belongings and clothing to travel to different locations. While hotel operators and housekeepers may not be able to prevent bed bugs from sneaking in with guests, housekeepers are the first line of defense for spotting these pests once they’ve entered the facility.

Housekeepers can stay one-step ahead by regularly inspecting these common hiding spots for bed bugs:
1. Mattress, box spring and frame. Examine sheets for small fecal spots, or bed bug droppings. On fabric, they look like someone touched the surface with a black Sharpie. Carefully inspect the mattress and box spring seams, creases, edges, folds, tufts and areas around zippers and tags for shed skin and bugs. Lift up the mattress to inspect the underneath side, as well as the slats, rails and platform corners of the bed frame.
2. Headboard. Inspect any cracks, crevices, edges and in any intricate designs. Pull the headboard away from the wall to examine the wall and backside of the headboard.
3. Floor and baseboard covering. Scan the floor, especially carpet, and baseboard coverings underneath the bed and along the frame of the room.
4. Upholstered seating. Carefully examine throw pillows, particularly zipper areas, and check the seams, edges and folds along furniture crevices and inside cushion covers of sofas and chairs. Don’t forget any removable lids of ottomans or stools.
5. Closet. Inspect the closet floor and the entire luggage stand, especially where the webbing wraps around the frame.
6. Wardrobes and dressers. Open doors and drawers and inspect along the seals. Look closely at furniture joints. Check the floor where furniture and carpet meet, looking for live or dead insects and droppings.
7. Nightstands and wall fixtures. Similar to dressers, examine drawers and furniture cracks and crevices. Open and shake any books that may be in the drawers. Observe the edges, backside and underneath lamps, picture frames, alarm clocks or other decorative items and fixtures.
8. Outlets and air vents.  Monitor any area where outlets, power cords and air vents are present. Bed bugs can wedge themselves into spaces thinner than credit card thickness, so look along the edges of outlets and the sockets for any signs.

Bed bugs are small, varying between the size of a grain of rice and an appleseed, so they can be extremely hard to spot. Remember to look for all signs such as droppings, blood marks and cast skins. Call a trusted pest control expert at the first sign, or even if a problem may be suspected but there has yet to be a sighting of bed bugs. The most effective way to prevent an infestation is through proper training and being proactive.

Dr. Nancy Troyano is the Director of Operations Education and Training for Rentokil North America. As a Board Certified Entomologist, Nancy is responsible for leading and supporting education and training for all lines of pest business and at all levels of the operation, which includes over 4500 pest technicians and managers.