Bed bugs have emerged as a persistent and troubling insect for nearly every industry sector. Often, cleaning professionals are the first responders to complaints about these pests. Thus, jan/san distributors servicing these end users will need to become familiar with the tools and resources available to help combat bed bugs as this pest is expected to become even more pervasive this summer.

According to research entomologist Jeffrey White of BedBug Central and Cooper Pest Solutions, Lawrenceville, N.J., some states have already seen a 40 percent increase in bed bug activity since 2010. White expects that the summer of 2011 will present unique challenges for cleaning professionals as bed bugs become more prevalent in public spaces.

“Last year the country witnessed a considerable increase in bed bug activity,” says White. “Because bed bugs have had an opportunity to firmly establish populations, I believe their numbers have reached a tipping point and we should expect significant numbers to appear in places like office buildings, commercial properties, schools, movie theaters and anywhere people gather.”

With these observations in mind, facility managers, maintenance staff and cleaning contractors will need to not only become knowledgeable about bed bugs, but also the tools and resources available to help detect infestations.

Know What To Look For

To effectively treat for bed bugs it is important to have at least a basic understanding of the biology and behavior of the pest. Bed bugs are the size and color of an apple seed. They are ecto-parasite (feed from the exterior of a host) that feeds solely on blood. A popular misconception is that bed bugs are only found in beds in homes. While this may be a common hiding spot for bed bugs, these pests are rapidly moving into public areas and can be found in office building furniture, retail store inventory and a variety of other areas.

Under normal circumstances bed bugs will emerge from their hiding spaces during the night to locate a host (typically human) and withdraw blood in a fashion similar to mosquitoes. However, in public spaces bed bug behavior becomes unpredictable and they will feed whenever possible. Feeding roughly takes five to 10 minutes and once complete, bed bugs will retreat to their hiding places and wait another seven days before emerging to feed again. Feeding is initially painless due to an anesthetic that the insect secretes.

Detecting An Infestation

In order for bed bugs to feed, they must travel to beds, couches or other forms of furniture to access the blood of a resting host. Interception devices may be one of the more versatile pest control products available on the market because they exploit this behavioral necessity to help prevent furniture infestation while assisting in early detection.

These simple devices intercept bed bugs as they travel to and from furniture looking for blood-meals. In many models, the legs of furniture are placed inside the interception device. The bugs climb into these devices and get trapped in a well they cannot climb out of or get stuck in the device’s glue barrier.

Outside of homes, bed bugs are most commonly found on couches and chairs, but as infestations grow in size they can begin to disperse throughout a building and infest desks, cubicle walls, file cabinets and many other locations. Infested facilities have used interception devices to catch bugs left in the facility after bed bug services are performed. These have also been proactively placed in facilities to monitor for bed bugs in an effort to catch an infestation as early as possible.

Jeffrey White is a research entomologist for Lawrenceville, N.J.-based Cooper Pest Solutions and BedBug Central. Calvin Allen is the director of strategic communications for BedBug Central. For more information, visit