Hotel and B&B guests should brace themselves for starving and aggressive bed bugs which have been lying dormant in mattresses and bed frames for three months, according to experts.
From July 4 (at the earliest), hotels, B&Bs and AirBnB hosts will once again be welcoming paying guests as we move into phase three of the lockdown exit plan.
But while most punters will assume that their room has been lying empty for three months, there is a good chance that they’ve been permanently occupied – by an army of hungry bed bugs.
“Bed bugs live a long time – sometimes six months to a year – without food and they are activated primarily by CO2 from human breathing and body heat”, said Dr Richard Naylor, director and chief entomologist at The Bed Bug Foundation.
“They can detect when there is a host around, so the first guests in hotels can expect to be bitten quite aggressively, particularly at night-time. I would advise guests that bed bugs hide close to the bed and lay eggs in small places, such as in bed frames or mattress springs. Keep your belongings away from the bed, preferably on a luggage rack or if the hotel room is small, in the bathroom.”
According to home services and pest control firm Fantastic Services, bed bugs are one of the most common reasons for pest call-outs. In the last year, in London alone, their pest control teams were called out more than 2,000 times to exterminate them.
Bed bugs are tiny, flat, rust-coloured parasites which cause itchy bites. They can hide in many places, including on bed frames, mattresses, clothing and furniture. According to some experts, their numbers have been growing for the last 15 years, due to an increased resistance to pesticides, among other factors.
Rune Sovndahl, CEO of Fantastic Services, said: “Social distancing rules are still in full force, but if you think that means you’ll be sleeping alone on your staycation, then you could be in for an itchy surprise. Before booking a stay, it’s worth enquiring as to whether sheets, mattresses and bed frames have been properly cleaned.”
Tips for hotel and B&B guests to avoid bed bugs
Below, Sovndahl offers five tips for any staycationers who want to avoid becoming breakfast, and would rather eat it during their stays.
- Prior to check-in, ask the establishment what practices they have put in place to deal with bedbug prevention and treatment. It’s important that you are being provided with a safe environment for your stay – free of hungry bed bugs!
- Thoroughly inspect the room before unpacking, making sure to check behind the headboards and sofas/chairs. It’s also worth pulling back the bedsheets and inspecting the mattress seams, particularly at the corners, for stains or spots. If you see anything suspicious, notify management and ask to change rooms immediately.
- Keep your belongings away from the bed because bed bugs come out at dark, feed and go back to their hiding place – this may result in you unknowingly bringing bed bugs back to your home.
- After your trip, make sure to inspect the contents of your luggage before bringing them into the house. Bed bugs can easily travel in your belongings, so consider vacuuming your suitcases and washing all of your clothes in hot water to ensure that any lingering bed bugs don’t find their way into your closet.
- If you notice any bites, apply liquid soap or a paste made of baking soda and water on the bitten spots and let it dry out. If the rash is too severe, then you might want to see a dermatologist or use a steroidal anti-itch cream.