Jul 26, 2012 – Bed Bugs And Hotels


Can you treat bed bugs by fumigation or fogging hotel guest rooms? What is the best treatment?


I will say first that "fogging" is going to be fairly ineffective for resolving a bed bug problem. Fogging the air with pyrethrum may be able to kill some exposed adult bugs, but it will have no effect on bugs that are hidden within the many, many hiding places they are likely to be. This includes seams of mattresses, within dressers and all the crevices on dressers, behind head boards and items hanging on the walls, along the seams of carpets at the wall junction and behind wall baseboards, and even inside TV's or bedside clocks. All of the bugs hiding within these places need to be killed or extracted in some other way, so don't waste time and product fogging the air. 

Dealing with The Common Bed Bug - Cimex lectularius - is now known to be a very difficult and complex process. In a hotel it is an even larger challenge because of the ability of these bugs to move from room to room and floor to floor. I encourage anyone who plans to become involved in bed bug control to attend every training event possible and to read every resource available on them. This is an evolving process and new technologies are coming along each year. One of these is advancements in monitoring devices, such as the new "Verifi" detectors from FMC. These incorporate new attractants that seem to greatly enhance the performance, better enabling you to determine if the bugs are present in a room. There still are pitfall traps and other monitors that also effectively capture bed bugs, and these should be part of any program. 

Fumigation using Vikane is an option, but not a great one for a hotel due to the size of the building. The entire structure would have to be enclosed in a sealed tarp for the fumigant to be used effectively. If this hotel has a runaway problem on multiple floors and many rooms then fumigation might be an appropriate choice. Properly done you can guarantee that immediately after the fumigation all bugs and their eggs will be dead and the property free and clear of the problem........for awhile at least. But, the cost would be very high, so it has to be compared with the cost of treating rooms one at a time, repeating treatments in most cases, and waiting for weeks to months to be certain the problem is gone. The cost of a fumigation also needs to be balanced with the liability aspect for the hotel, which may be losing business because of the infestation or be unable to rent many rooms because they are under treatment. A fumigation could quickly put all those rooms back into service. 

So, the "best" treatment for bed bugs is going to have to depend on the situation. If it is just one or two rooms then these MUST be taken out of service and treated very carefully and thoroughly using a combination of dusts within voids, residual contact products within cracks and crevices, installation of mattress encasements, and vacuuming. Many companies now also routinely use heating of individual rooms with good success, but this takes training and a lot of equipment. While any rooms are being treated all surrounding rooms, above, below, and to the sides, must be inspected and monitored to ensure they are not infested as well. 

Hotels, by now, had BETTER have a bed bug policy and protocol in place for all hotel employees. All of the housekeeping staff must be made aware of what to check for after each guest leaves a room. They also need to be taught how to prevent taking home bed bugs on their own clothing or in their own belongings. The hotel that still turns a blind eye to this problem is going to suffer some serious consequences. 

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