Pest control association says bedbug infestations are on the uptick

By Kitty Bean Yancey, USA TODAY


Bedbugs are on the uptick in hotels, on public transport and in other public places.

So says a new survey from the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) survey. It found that infestations — even in hospitals — are up over last year.

Even the pest-control industry “has been surprised” by the resurgence of bedbugs and “where they’re being found,” NPMA public affairs VP Missy Henriksen tells me.

According to the just-released NPMA/University of Kentucky 2011 “Bugs Without Borders Survey,” involving 415 pest-control specialists, the creepy crawlers have multiplied and are found in places you might not expect.

Survey findings include:

* 99% of pest professionals have seen bedbug infestations in the past year (up from 95% in 2010)

*80% of pest professionals have treated bedbugs in hotels/motels, compared with 67% in 2010

*73% of pest professionals believe bedbugs are the most difficult pest to treat
*54% have treated bedbugs in college dorms, up from 35% in 2010
*46% have treated bedbugs in nursing homes, vs. 25% in 2010
*38% have treated bedbugs in office buildings, compared with 18% in 2010
* 36% have treated bedbugs in schools and day care centers, vs. 10% in 2010. That’s an amazing increase, as is the 31% who say they’ve found bedbugs in hospitals, vs. 12% in 2010
*18% have treated bedbugs in trains, buses or taxis, compared with 9% in 2010
*17% have dealt with bedbugs in movie theaters; 5% in 2010

RELATED: Does your hotel have bedbugs? Check this registry

Why the increase? “Bedbugs are hitchhikers,” Henriksen says. More of us are traveling, and we lead increasingly mobile lives. Also, strong chemicals formerly used to treat bedbugs haven’t been allowed for decades, freeing the little biters to thrive.

The good news, if one can call it that, is that infestations can be treated, by steam, heat, freezing, chemicals, vacuuming or a combination of the above, Henriksen says. She offers some tips for travelers:

*When checking into a hotel, check behind the headboard and on the mattress for stains — blood or fecal matter indicating bedbugs may be present.

*Try to avoid leaving luggage on upholstered surfaces. The safest place is in the bathroom, on counters or in the shower, because the bugs don’t like uncarpeted or non-upholstered surfaces with no place to hide.

*While many find sites such as, which contain reports by travelers and others about infestations, useful, Henriksen warns that since complaints are anonymous, they could be written by disgruntled competitors or employees. And a bedbug infestation that’s here today could be gone tomorrow if the hotel has a good pest control policy, she says. “And hotels are much more proactive now,” she says. Maybe, but if I see multiple, detailed reports of problems at a hotel, I don’t make a reservation. Better to be safe than sorry.

*The bad news is that more bedbugs are being found on trains and planes, she says. So it’s important to be vigilant when you arrive home.

That means immediately taking out all clothes and washing and drying them on “hot,” she says. Or bag them and send them to the dry cleaner if they’re delicate. Vacuum the suitcase thoroughly and dispose of the vacuum bag, she says.

Good tips. Do readers have any more? Have any of you brought bedbugs home from a trip and how did you eradicate them?

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