Bed bugs will not die off during Covid-19, but lay in wait for when hotel guests return. Spotta's CEO Robert Fryers and Dr Richard Naylor of The Bed Bug Foundation, provide the latest information for hoteliers.
The damage from Covid-19 to hotels may not be over once the Government greenlights a return to travel, with dormant bed bugs able to live for around a year without feeding.
Will bed bugs disappear during Coronavirus?
“If your hotel had bed bugs before lockdown, you’ll find them again when you reopen,” says Fryers. “With a life span of more than a year, bed bugs are experts at conserving their energy when there’s no food available. And they’ll be hungry when your guests return.”
Confirming Spotta’s warning to hoteliers, Dr Richard Naylor, director and chief entomologist at The Bed Bug Foundation, says: “As we’ve seen with ski chalets closed for months during their off-season, I expect the first overnight guests in hotels post-Coronavirus closures will be met by hungry bugs.”
Naylor advised that while bed bugs are known to dislike light, rarely coming out during the day and hiding in the darkest places of hotel rooms such as under mattresses and in headboards, dormant bed bugs will awake from their slumber with an almost insatiable hunger.
He warned: “If they’ve been dormant for months, bed bugs will be highly aggressive, particularly when it’s dark. If really hungry, they may also lose their phobia of light. This means bed bugs are much more likely to bite when a host returns.”
What hotels can do when reopening
As part of their Coronavirus recovery planning, hotels should allow time for identifying and treating bed bugs before reopening to guests.
But it’s not all bad news for hoteliers, according to Naylor: “Bed bugs are unlikely to be transmitted between buildings as people’s movement is restricted. Whilst dormant, the bed bugs also won’t be moving around your business, so you’re likely to find them where they were before shutting your doors. Having known infestations treated by specialists is key to providing your guests a safe environment to return to, whilst monitoring systems are a good way to ensure guests won’t get savaged as the bed bugs awake looking for a feed.”
Adds Fryers: “Bed bugs are attracted to carbon dioxide their potential host breathes out. They also like heat. To try and trick them into wasting their energy looking for food, you can up the heat in your rooms. However, we don’t advise hoteliers to take this route due to the monetary and environmental costs of heating an empty room. Instead, investing in a smart monitoring system and working with your pest controllers to treat any infestations are key.”
You can find out more about the history of bed bugs in our blog post here.