Exterminating the Myths About Bed Bugs in Hotels

White linen bed in hotel room

It’s time once again to talk about something that no innkeeper wants to discuss, but every innkeeper needs to discuss: bed bugs.

These pests aren’t something you can afford to take lightly, as bed bugs in hotels can severely mar your guests’ experience.

At the same time, it’s important not to treat bed bugs like the boogeyman. Let’s spend some time eradicating some common myths about bed bugs in hotels with the help of National Geographic.

Myth 1: Bed bugs are a new threat

Bed bugs have plagued innkeepers for as long as people have owned inns. These tiny insects gravitate to wood and fabric in order to stay close to their food source (i.e. people).

So why all the attention now? “Public awareness has skyrocketed,” Cornell University urban entomologist Jody Gangloff-Kauffman told National Geographic.

Bed bugs have been in the news quite a bit, even in years where the problem hasn’t been as bad, making them seem like a global threat.

Myth 2: You will bring bed bugs back home when you travel

This could happen, writes National Geographic’s Christopher Elliott, if:

  • Your guest sleeps in a bed with bed bugs
  • And they leave their clothes and bags on that bed
  • And the bed bugs climb from the bed to the luggage
  • And they unpack their bag on their bed at home
  • And the bed bugs decide to leave the bag and nest in their bed

As Elliott notes, “that’s a lot of ifs.” It’s a scenario that can be avoided altogether by inspecting mattresses and headboards for bed bug skins or eggs. (Read our blog post from 2015 for a more detailed explanation of how to spot and deal with bed bugs.)

Myth 3: Bed bug bites are painful, and can spread diseases

Not really. Most people don’t even know they’ve been bitten. The rest feel some itching and skin inflammation for a few days.

Jerome Goddard, who has spent years studying bed bugs at Mississippi State University, told National Geographic that a bed bug bite is “no worse than a mosquito.”

And unlike mosquitoes, bed bugs don’t carry diseases. They’ve been studied as potential carriers for serious illnesses such as HIV and hepatitis, but research has found no evidence that a bed bug bite can make you sick.

Myth 4: If you find a bed bug in one hotel room, the entire building is infested

Many bed bug outbreaks are limited, according to Michael Potter, a professor of urban and medical entomology at the University of Kentucky.

“Just because you see a hotel named in a bed bug registry website doesn’t mean all the rooms are infested,” Potter told National Geographic.

Myth 5: Online bed bug reviews are always reliable

Not always. Elliott uses the example of Orkin’s annual bed bug report. According to its latest findings, Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and Chicago are all bed bug havens.

But as Elliott notes, this isn’t exactly a scientific study, just a record of the places where Orkin got the most calls.

Mattress encasementThere’s also a survey by the best management company Steritech which says 25 percent of all American hotel rooms needed bed bug treatments.

“But few bothered to note that even if rooms were deemed to need treatment, that doesn’t mean that they were infested, nor that guests would have been bitten,” Elliott writes.

We realize that saying “A lot of what you hear about bed bugs in hotels is a myth” won’t be of much comfort to a hotel guest who has found a bed bug in the room.

That’s why InnStyle has devoted an extensive part of its catalogue to bed bug protection. From waterproof duvet covers to bed care encasements to Rest Easy bed bug spray, we have a host of products to keep your guests safe and comfortable.

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