How Common Are Bed Bugs in Hotels?

Everyone’s heard the jokes about bed bugs being so prevalent in hotel rooms, but is this really accurate? Are these tiny pests really lurking behind every bed sheet in every hotel in America? The answer is both “yes” and “no.” Although there are more bed bugs in hotel beds than most people are aware of, there are things you can do about it, especially if you know what you’re looking for before you get to your next hotel room.

What Are Bed Bugs?

First, let’s start by describing what these pests are. Bed bugs are small parasitic insects that are reddish-brown in color and which love biting the exposed skin of humans and animals who are asleep. They do this to feed on the blood of those animals and humans, and even though they do not spread diseases, they can still cause a host of other problems. Bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed and they love hiding in the cracks and crevices of beds – including the head boards and frames – and any other objects near the bed.

Anytime you spend time in a facility that experiences a lot of turnover, for example, a hotel or homeless shelter, you have an increased risk of encountering bed bugs. If you’re wondering how common they are, not just in hotel rooms but in regular homes as well, consider this: roughly 97% of all pest professionals have treated bed bugs in the past year. This makes for a very common nuisance indeed.

Most people, however, confuse bed bugs with other types of pests, which is why it usually takes a professional to know if you indeed have these bugs in your bed. The symptoms of a bed bug bite are also similar to other insect bites and include red, itchy skin that you may find in areas such as the arms, hands, face, and neck. Bed bug bites can also show up as a line of bumps or a cluster of them, which is unlike many other types of bites.

Back to Hotel Rooms

Now let’s get back to bed bugs in hotel rooms. Although people think of hotel rooms as being more prevalent when it comes to bed bugs, the fact is that the top three locations where pest-control professionals find bed bugs are:

  • Single-family homes (91%).
  • Apartments or condominiums (89%).
  • Hotels or motels (68%).

This doesn’t mean that 68% of all hotel rooms have bed bugs; it means that 68% of the hotels that pest-control professionals go into have these bugs in their beds. Of course, 68% is still a very high number regardless of how you look at it, which means if you travel at least occasionally, bed bugs are something you need to be concerned about. So, what can you do about bed bugs if you travel? How do you tell if your hotel bed has these bugs, and what can you do about it? The answers are simpler than you think.

First Thing’s First

Before you travel to any location, it’s a good idea to do a little online research on the hotel where you’re planning to stay. Read the customer reviews and check out websites such as to see what they have to say about the hotel. Some additional things you can do are described below.

The first obvious action when you get to your hotel room is to do an inspection of your bed, and this includes every inch of it, such as:

  • Along mattress seams and zippers.
  • Underneath the mattress.
  • Each joint of the bed frame.
  • All headboards and footboards.

In addition, you need to check the carpet around the bed and the surrounding furniture as well. Even though bed bugs prefer beds because that is where people sleep, they have been known to visit areas close to the bed as well. When you check the furniture, check all of the joints, and make sure you look at any picture frames or other items sitting on top of the nightstands. If it’s anywhere close to the bed, you need to check it carefully.

That being said, the next logical step is to make sure your suitcases are far away from the bed – as far away as possible. If you put the suitcase too close to the bed, any bed bugs that might be there could very well climb into the suitcase, then you’ll be bringing home more than just souvenirs from your trip, which no one wants! You should also put the suitcase on a luggage rack or table so that the bugs are even less likely to find you.

Things you Can Do

Although lower-priced hotels are more likely to have bed bugs than more expensive hotels, the truth is that any hotel or motel can be visited by these pesky insects at any time. They are unknowingly brought home or to another location by travelers all the time, which is why you always have to be diligent where these creatures are concerned. If you do notice even one bed bug in a hotel room, ask to change rooms immediately or go to another hotel.

Disinfectants such as Lysol and others can kill bed bugs if sprayed directly on them, but it does not prevent other bed bugs from joining them, nor does it kill bed bug eggs. You can also use certain UV lights to detect bed bugs on your hotel room bed but again, it is extremely difficult to kill all bed bugs because they are so small and so difficult to see and to find. The best thing to do when you suspect bed bugs is to go to another facility.

This is not to say that you should be overly paranoid when you have to spend the night in a hotel. If you inspect your bed and surrounding areas, check out the hotel before you arrive, and do what you can to find these bugs so you can decide what to do next, you’ll be much better off and better prepared for staying in your next hotel room. It doesn’t have to be stressful – you just have to pay a little attention and you should be just fine.

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