Every so often we’re greeted with news stories about beds bugs infesting public spaces. A couple recent examples include the Maryland Highway Administration’s Baltimore headquarters and this hospital in Kentucky.
Bed bugs have become a growing problem nationwide. The 2015 Bugs Without Borders survey found that 64% of pest management professionals report that bed bug infestations continue to be on the rise.
While bed bug infestations aren’t super common in offices and public buildings, they do happen. And when they do it makes for a real headache for a couple of reasons:
- Getting rid of bed bugs in an office space can be challenging
- Just hearing the words “bed bug” can cause panic and discomfort among office workers.
With the arrival of summer (said to be the peak bed bug season) and more people traveling (bed bugs love to hitch a ride), it’s a good time to talk about what you can do to keep bed bugs from making a home in your facility.
4 Things You Need to Know About Bed Bugs
Here are four facts you may not know about Cimex lectularius, AKA bed bugs:
1. They’re out for blood (literally)
Don’t let the cute name fool you: bed bugs are a real nuisance. They get their nickname because of their tendency to make homes in mattresses. Why do they do that? Because they like to be close to their food source. That’s right, these tiny vampires feed on human blood. Yikes!
2. They prefer the night
Bed bugs are nocturnal insects so they typically only come out at night. Which, fortunately, may keep them away from people in your office; but, unfortunately, increases the chances they may not be spotted quickly.
3. They’re good at hiding
Another reason bed bugs are so difficult to shake is their ability to hide. Bed bugs are small, flat and durable—which gives them the ability to squeeze into tight nooks and crannies. This can make it challenging to find them all when trying to eradicate them.
4. They don’t carry disease
While bed bugs do bite people, reactions to those bites vary—from nothing at all to minor itching and swelling to more complex reactions. But unlike ticks, bed bugs are not known to spread diseases. This is definitely something you want to make sure all employees know if a bed bug is spotted in your office.
How to Keep Bed Bugs from Infesting Your Facility
So what can you do to keep bed bugs from setting up shop in your office? Here are a few tips:
1. Have a documented plan
The best way to react quickly should a bed bug make an appearance in your office is to establish a formal plan. Have a procedure in place, a go-to person in charge of handling the problem, and potentially even a pest management professional knowledgeable in dealing with bed bugs on standby.
2. Educate key employees
Make sure managers and custodial staff know what a bed bug looks like and what they should do (and who to contact) if they find one in your facility. If possible, have them collect the bug in a sealed bag for identification by a pest professional instead of squashing it.
3. Clean your office regularly
Vacuuming every day can be a difference maker when it comes to keeping traveling bed bugs from making a home in your office. Be sure to pay extra attention to areas with upholstered furniture and places like coat closets. Regular cleaning may also help you spot bed bugs quicker.
What To Do If You Find Bed Bugs in Your Office
Should a dreaded bed bug be discovered in your facility, take these actions:
1. Contact a pest pro immediately
You will want a pest management professional with experience and expertise dealing with bed bugs to assess your office, let you know if you have a true problem, and, if so, what course of action should be taken. Don’t wait—get a professional in there as soon as possible to find out if there’s an infestation.
2. Communicate with employees
If a bed bug infestation is discovered, make sure all the people in your office know about it and what you’re doing to solve it. Be open and honest. Make someone available to answer any questions. Provide valid information on bed bugs, what to do if they see one in the office, how to keep them out of their homes, any insecticides you may be using, etc.
3. Monitor and follow up
As mentioned above, bed bugs can be a nagging problem. So you will need to continue having a professional monitor and evaluate your building for several months after the facility has been treated. Of course, this will come at a cost—but it is a worthwhile and necessary investment to make sure these pests don’t return.
Prepare Right and “Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite”
Bed bugs should be treated like any other emergency or disaster scenario: You hope it never happens, but it’s better to be prepared just in case it does. Hopefully, you’ll never have to deal with bed bugs in your facility. But if you do, be ready to react and respond in the best way possible.