How Housekeepers Can Defend Towards Mattress Bugs

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Contributed by Dr. Nancy Troyano, Rentokil North America

According to the US Travel Association, over two-thirds of Americans plan to travel between May and October. With hotel and lodging establishments eager to welcome guests again, the last thing these hotels need when their operations are interrupted by bed bug infestations is the last thing these hotels need.

It’s almost impossible to keep bed bugs from checking in with guests. As seasoned hitchhikers, bed bugs attach themselves to luggage, personal items, and clothing to travel to different locations. While hotel operators and housekeepers may not be able to prevent bed bugs from creeping in on guests, housekeepers are the first line of defense to spotting these pests once they enter the facility.

Housekeepers can stay one step ahead by regularly checking these common hiding spots for bed bugs:
1. Mattress, box spring and frame. Examine the sheets for small stains or bed bug droppings. On fabric, they look like someone has touched the surface with a black sharpie. Carefully examine mattress and box spring seams, creases, edges, folds, tufts, and areas around zippers and labels for flakes of skin and insects. Lift the mattress to inspect the underside of the bed frame and the slats, rails, and platform corners.
2. headboard. Examine all cracks, crevices, edges, and all intricate designs. Pull the headboard away from the wall to examine the wall and the back of the headboard.
3. Floor and skirting board covering. Scan the floor, especially the carpet, and baseboards under the bed and along the frame of the room.
4. Padded seating. Carefully examine the throw pillows, especially the zippered areas, and check the seams, edges, and folds along furniture crevices and in cushion covers on sofas and chairs. Don’t forget about the removable lids on ottomans or stools.
5th closet. Examine the cabinet floor and the entire luggage rack, especially where the webbing wraps around the frame.
6. Wardrobes and dressers. Open doors and drawers and inspect along the seals. Take a close look at the furniture connections. Check the floor where furniture and carpet meet and look for live or dead insects and droppings.
7. Bedside tables and wall brackets. Similar to dressers, examine drawers, and furniture cracks and crevices. Open and shake any books that might be in the drawers. Observe the edges, backs and bottoms of lamps, picture frames, alarm clocks or other decorative items and furnishings.
8. Outlets and vents. Monitor all areas that have electrical outlets, power cords, and vents. Bed bugs can wedge themselves into spaces thinner than the thickness of a credit card. So look around the edges of the sockets and outlets for signs.

Bed bugs are small, varying between the size of a grain of rice and an apple core, making them extremely difficult to spot. Remember to watch out for any signs such as feces, blood stains, and plaster skins. Call a trusted pest control expert at the first sign or if a problem is suspected but bed bugs have not yet been spotted. The most effective way to prevent an infestation is through proper training and being proactive.

Dr. Nancy Troyano is 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 pest businesses and levels of the operation, which includes over 4,500 pest engineers and managers.

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