Tag Archives: Motels

South Bend Apartment Residents Overtaken By Bedbugs

31 Oct

10/31/2011 South Bend Indiana Apartment Residents Overtaken By Bedbugs

Trash bins overflowed with mattresses and furniture last month at a South Bend apartment complex. But anyone tempted to repurpose the loot would have been in for a nasty surprise.

The bedding and furnishings were infested with bedbugs.

The bugs had moved into several of the complex’s buildings and were “spreading like wildfire” from apartment to apartment, according to one resident, who didn’t want to be named for fear of eviction.

“I noticed the bites first and I was thinking, ‘I’m breaking out or I have the measles,’ ” she said. “But then I saw a little bug.”

She called the complex office and they sent Terminix to look at her place. They confirmed that she had the bugs.

So did her daughter and grandchildren, who live in a nearby apartment.

“They are bit up bad,” she said. “My daughter and her friend threw away everything.”

The family is sleeping on the floor until the problem is resolved.

Meanwhile, the woman is concerned that the bugs might spread through the complex’s schoolchildren.

“My grandson goes to school and other kids out here go to school,” she said. “They say (the bugs) can travel on people’s clothing or purses.”

She’s right. Bedbugs don’t stay put.

“They are the best hitchhikers there are,” said Tim Harvey, manager of Terminix’s South Bend branch.

“They ride from place to place on clothing, luggage. They can even get on your pants and travel from room to room or be transported anywhere.

“It has nothing to do with sanitation or cleanliness. They are just good hitchhikers,” he said.

They tend to infest places with a lot of traffic: college dorms, hotels and motels, nursing homes, office buildings, schools and day cares, hospitals, public transportation and movie theaters.

Last year, Hawthorne Elementary School in Elkhart dealt with an infestation. In August, the Niles Housing Commission’s Hi Rise apartments had to call in a company with a bedbug-sniffing dog to deal with an infestation. There have been several reports of bedbugs at hotels in Michiana. And, of course, there are homes.

“I’ve actually gotten double the calls this year than we did previous years,” said Harvey. “We probably do an average of two to three jobs per week.”

Science and health

Bedbugs are small, flat, oval insects that feed solely on blood, preferably that of humans. They are usually active at night and prefer to hide close to where people sleep – especially in the crevices of the mattress, box spring, bed frame and headboard. They cannot fly, but will crawl as far as 20 feet to obtain a blood meal, said Marc Lame, an entomologist at Indiana University Bloomington.

Bedbugs feed by piercing exposed skin like a mosquito. They are not able to burrow into skin or through material. It takes them about five to 10 minutes to feed, but people seldom know they are being bitten.

“Basically their whole survival depends on getting on, getting a blood meal and getting off without being squished,” Lame said. “They inject an anticoagulant to make the blood flow faster and an anesthetic so they can remain undetected.”

Some people develop an itchy red welt similar to a mosquito bite within a day to two weeks of being bitten, while others have little or no reaction.

Female bedbugs might lay 200 to 500 eggs during their lifetime. When they first hatch, the bugs are about the size of a pinhead. As they grow, they molt or shed their skin five times. Before each stage of the life cycle, the bugs must have a blood meal. However, they can go for months, as many as 10 to 12, without eating, Lame said. If conditions are right, they can mature within a month – which means they can produce several generations in one year.

While a lot of research is still being done on the subject, studies so far have shown that bedbugs do not transmit disease.

However, the government is beginning to recognize the bugs as a serious health concern. Just last year, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a joint statement on the matter. This is because the bugs have a psychological effect on people, Lame said.

“If you think you’re sleeping with bedbugs, you are not going to sleep very well,” he said. “Which causes you to function very poorly – from crazy to just darn tired.”

That, in turn, can impair reflexes and contribute to other health problems.

“After they get rid of (the bugs), it can take three weeks or three months for (a person) to psychologically get over the infestation,” Lame said. “I’ve even had some sleepless nights after bedbug calls that were heavily infested – where they were really numerous and gross.”

Some people become obsessed and would do anything to rid their homes or themselves of the bugs, including “dousing themselves with pesticides or bedbug bombs,” Lame said, or scraping their skin with sharp objects.

A North Carolina woman died after she and her husband used several chemicals in their home in an attempt to rid it of bedbugs.

“We could all have bedbugs and survive,” Lame said, but when it reaches an epidemic and causes anxiety in people, public health officials play an important role.

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How Hotels Are Trained To Handle Bedbugs

23 Oct

10/23/2011 How Hotels Are Trained To Handle Bedbugs: Experts Write Proper Procedure To Follow When Guests Complain              Hopefully you will never have to deal with bedbugs in your hotel.  However, if you do, below is the way the hotel should deal with the matter:

We know all too well there is always a risk that hitchhiking bed bugs will be introduced into one of your hotel guestrooms. Catching bed bugs ahead of a guest sighting/attack is clearly the best possible outcome.  

Unfortunately, there will still be the occasion where a guest comes forward with a bed bug report. With endless media reports of bed bugs, there is little doubt that travelers are on heightened alert. Add to this that guests will often confuse other insect activity with that of bed bugs. 

Basically, there are two possibilities for bed bug reports: a guest reports having seen what they believe to be bed bugs (but is not complaining of bites), or a guest is complaining they have received bed bug bites at your hotel.

Under either scenario, there are common “response” and “action” steps to take.

RESPONSE
Whenever a guest complains of sighting a live bed bug (and/or bed bug indicators) or comes forward with a complaint of bites, it is important for the staff to take quick and decisive actions. As part of my efforts with B3G (a company whose mission is to eradicate bed bug infestations at hotels), I have developed an easy-to-remember response protocol. This approach starts with using the response acronym “LOCATE.” Think of the bed bug epidemic as a battle against tiny terrorists. Before you can take proper actions, you need to locate the enemy’s base of operations. “Locate” as our acronym helps you remember the six elements of the proper response.

Step 1: Listen. Listen completely to the guest’s bed bug report without interruption.

Step 2: Offer a different room. As soon as you have completed listening to the guest’s bed bug account, let the guest know that you are prepared to offer them an alternative room.

Step 3: Comfort. Comfort the guest and provide reassurance that bed bug prevention is taken very seriously at your hotel.

Step 4: Ask. Ask for the details that led to the guest reporting bed bug activity within their room. Fact gathering basics include: what did they see; where did they see it; how much did they see?

Step 5: Tend to needs. Typically, the guest will request an alternative room. Relocating the guest should be seamless via the help of hotel staff.

Step 6: Explain. Explain the steps that the hotel will take as a result of a guest report. Continue to keep the guest informed throughout the process.

ACTION
Responding to the guest is important but without taking quick and appropriate physical action, the hotel will lose credibility.

Just as there is an acronym for the appropriate response, B3G has developed an easy to remember list of actions to be taken by the staff following a report of bed bug activity in a guest room. The easy to remember acronym is “ACTION,” which was selected in order to help your staff remember the six steps that need to be completed.

Step 1: Attend to guest. Attending to the guest is synonymous with the response protocol, LOCATE (Listen, Offer, Ask, Comfort, Tend, and Explain).

Step 2: Contain. Avoid cross-contamination. Do not relocate a guest reporting activity without completing an inspection. If the inspection results are positive for BB activity, take appropriate steps regarding the guest’s belongings.

Step 3: Treat. Any report of bed bug activity will result in treatment and taking extra preventative maintenance measures.

Step 4: Impart seamless service. Imparting seamless service means that the staff is aligned to tend to the guest’s needs and provides timely and appropriate assistance.

Step 5: Offers. Follow your hotel’s protocol for problem resolution. Then, follow-up with the guest to ensure that they are satisfied with the hotel’s response to their bed bug report/complaint.

Step 6: Notes. After taking care of the guest and all steps to inspect and treat a guestroom, properly reporting the situation is the final action.

THE FOUR “DON’Ts”

1.    Don’t delay in responding to the guest (best practice is to extend an immediate response by GM or MOD).

2.    Don’t be defensive about the possibility that the guestroom has bed bug activity.

3.    Don’t disregard the inconvenience the guest will experience as a result of making report.

4.    Don’t drop the ball—complete all the following steps:

a.    Do your fact gathering

b.    Tend to the guest’s needs at all points of the process

c.     Keep the guest informed along the way

d.    Complete an incident report and make entries into your hotel’s bed bug log.

 
Continue Reading More: How Hotels Are Trained To Handle Bedbugs

Bedbug Report Shows Treatment For Infestations Way Up

19 Oct

10/19/2011 Bedbug Report Shows Treatment For Infestations Way Up

The pest management community has once again weighed in on a topic that for many Americans causes concern and embarrassment: bed bugs. The 2010 survey gave the American public insight into the bed bug resurgence in a way no other survey had before. In 2011, the U.S. pest management industry offers its unique perspective on just how extensive the bed bug invasion is and whether circumstances have improved or gotten worse in the past year. This report highlights the key findings obtained from more than 400 pest management professionals who participated in this survey.
The Resurgence Continues. The survey reveals that nearly every pest management professional (99 percent) — from coast to coast — has encountered a bed bug infestation over the past 12 months, compared to the 95 percent who reported bed bug encounters in 2010. The survey further reveals that bed bug infestations are continuing to rise, a trend noticed by more than eight out of 10 survey respondents (84 percent). This increase is consistent with findings from the 2010 survey.

The respondents had varying opinions to explain the increase in bed bug infestations, pointing to a surge in travel, a lack of public awareness and too few precautionary measures being taken. Many respondents also mentioned changes in pest control products and methods and the bugs’ resistance to some available pesticides.

The majority of respondents — six out of 10 — reported that infestations are a year-round phenomenon, seeing no seasonal influence to the pest. However, 25 percent of professionals indicated they saw a spike in reports during the summer. As people tend to travel more during the summer months, it’s possible that more people will unknowingly transport bed bugs to their residences after picking them up on vacation.
Just About Everywhere. While nine out of 10 respondents have treated bed bugs in apartments, condominiums and single-family homes in 2011 and 2010, in the past year bed bug encounters have become more commonly reported in many other places. For example, PMPs report seeing large increases in the number of bed bug encounters in college dorms, hotels, nursing homes, office buildings, schools and daycare centers, hospitals, public transportation and movie theaters compared to last year. More specifically, many places experienced double-digit growth from a year ago, including:

  • College dorms (54 percent, up from 35 percent a year ago)
  • Hotels/motels (80 percent, up from 67 percent a year ago)
  • Nursing homes (46 percent, up from 25 percent a year ago)
  • Office buildings (38 percent, up from 17 percent a year ago)
  • Schools and day care centers (36 percent, up from 10 percent a year ago)
  • Transportation (train/bus/taxi) (18 percent up from nine percent a year ago)
  • Hospitals (31 percent, up from 12 percent a year ago)
  • Movie theaters (17 percent, up from four percent a year ago)

Additionally, in this year’s survey, 21 percent of PMPs reported treating bed bugs in retail stores.
Public Attitudes. Bed bugs are widely reviled by consumers who get them. In fact, nearly every respondent (98 percent) described bed bug customers as upset and concerned. The most frequent description was “very” concerned (78 percent).

The respondents report one-quarter of their bed bug customers (25 percent) attempted to treat these pests prior to calling a pest control professional. A year ago, the comparable figure was substantially higher (38 percent), suggesting that in this arena the DIY approach is becoming less popular.

Consumers who do try to eradicate bed bugs often use methods that are both ineffective and dangerous. The respondents offered myriad examples, including the excessive and improper use of insecticides (especially “bug bombs” and foggers); the use of unregistered products; resorting to extreme measures such as propane heaters and open flame; and the application of inappropriate, often flammable chemicals, such as bleach, kerosene, alcohol, gasoline or diesel fuel. The respondents also observed many customers either do not read the instructions-for-use on insecticide packaging — or simply ignore them. Similar findings from 2010 fostered a conclusion still valid today: When it comes to treating bed bugs, consumers would benefit from more education and help from a professional.
Finding and Treating. Used almost universally, visual inspection continues to be the most popular method of finding bed bugs. The respondents noted, however, that other methods are significantly more popular today than they were a year ago. These include passive traps, pitfall traps and canine scent detection, with the latter showing the greatest gain.

Once bed bugs are found, nearly all pest management professionals (99 percent) report using insecticides to treat for bed bugs. Many respondents use mattress encasements or have clients launder the infested items. Fewer respondents — but still more than half — use vacuums or dispose of infested items entirely.

When it comes to controlling infestations, bed bugs continue to be the most difficult pest to treat, according to 73 percent of survey respondents. By comparison, 17 percent pointed to ants, nine percent said cockroaches and one percent said termites were the most difficult pests to control.
Pesticides. Pesticides are available to pest management professionals in a variety of formulations. Liquids and dusts are by far the most popular. Fewer respondents use aerosols, insecticide-impregnated resin strips and fumigants. Very few use total release foggers. Furthermore, although many respondents still use pyrethroids, the two most widely used products contain chlorfenapyr, a non-pyrethroid, and a new product containing β-cyfluthrin and imidacloprid.

Satisfaction with insecticides is relatively high. Three out of four respondents (77 percent) are very or somewhat satisfied with the insecticides they use, a modest gain from a year ago (68 percent). Four out of 10 respondents (41 percent) said they never seem to encounter a bed bug population resistant to insecticides. Last year, the comparable figure was lower at one out of three (34 percent).
All in a Few Days’ Work. In a typical residential setting, eight out of 10 respondents can control a bed bug infestation in two or three visits, with the initial visit lasting almost three hours. Here, little has changed since 2010.

Given the increase in bed bug infestations noted earlier, it is hardly surprising that many respondents report their bed bug service work is up by more than 50 percent. Also up over 2010 is the percentage of revenue bed bugs contribute to the bottom line for pest management firms, an average of five percent in 2011 compared with 3.6 percent in 2010.
Best Management Practices. The majority of respondents (78 percent) currently follow the Best Management Practices for bed bugs developed by the NPMA. Fewer than three out of 10, however, needed to alter their bed bug services as a result of the BMPs.

Continue Reading More: Bedbug Report Shows Treatment For Infestations Way Up

Milwaukee Puts Out Health Alert Against Bedbug Motel

29 Sep

9/29/2011 Milwaukee Puts Out Health Alert Against Bedbug Motel: Diamond Inn Has Massive Bedbug Problem With 279 Violations

The City of Milwaukee has put out a health alert at a motel in the city.

Prompted by repeat complaints, the Department of Neighborhood Services says the Diamond Inn, on the 6200 block of West Fond du Lac Avenue, has a massive bed bug problem.

The manager says they’re working on it.

Lakisha Lewis stayed there on Tuesday night, and she claims she was bit.

She showed TODAY’S TMJ4’s Diane Pathieu bit marks up and down her arm.

“I woke up this morning and I was itching,” said Lewis.

“My guy told me it was bed bugs.  I showed him the marks on my arm.”

This building is no stranger to problems.

“They have 279 violations since 2007, so it does have a history of a number of issues, both building code violations and sanitary and environmental conditions,” said Todd Weiler of the Department of Neighborhood Services.

This time, it was bed bugs.  Of the eight complaints received, all eight of the rooms were infested with bed bugs.

Shanda Rice cleans the rooms at the hotel, and she claims hotel staff has been aware of the problem.

“We’re treating it.  Every room is getting new carpet, everything else like that.”

The manager on site explained that the hotel’s owner is planning on re-doing the whole place, with new furniture, carpeting and beds in two weeks.

Until then, the DNS is warning them to clean up their act.

“We’re going to issue an order to restore it to clean and sanitary condition,” said Weiler.

“We’ll give them 30 days to do that, and also prove that they’ve specifically been treated for bed bugs by a professional.”

Continue Reading More/Watching Video: Milwaukee Puts Out Health Alert Against Bedbug Motel

How Texas Wildfires Have Fueled Bedbugs

22 Sep


9/22/2011 How Texas Wildfires Have Fueled Bedbugs

With many Texans displaced by recent wildfires, bed bugs may become another unwanted irritation during relocation, said Texas AgriLife Extension Service and Texas AgriLife Research experts.

“With so many people being displaced and having to find accommodations in hotels or motels, it’s important for them to be aware of the possibility of encountering bed bugs and to know something about their behavior and biology,” said Wizzie Brown, AgriLife Extension integrated pest management specialist in Travis County.

Brown said bed bugs have been a growing problem throughout the U.S. and beyond, especially in urban areas with a large volume of visitors.

And national media have noted complaints of bed bugs by people in accommodations ranging from low-end motels to five-star hotels.

“However, I also get calls from student housing on campus, people in apartments, in homes and other locations,” Brown said.

“It’s not just hotels or motels. People can even  be exposed to bed bugs while staying in the home of a friend who doesn’t know they have them.”

Bed bugs often leave dried blood or rust-colored stains in mattresses, especially on the mattress folds and tufts, she said.

“When you get to your hotel or motel room, pull back the bedding to expose the mattress and box springs and check the mattress, especially the areas near the seams and tags,” Brown said. “It’s also a good idea to inspect the headboard as well as items near the bed, such as a lamp base or nightstand.”

While bed bugs, as their name implies, prefer beds and bedding, they also can be found under cushions, behind picture frames, near lamp stands, behind baseboards, in back of electrical switch plates and in other locations, she said.

Inspect the room where you plan to stay before bringing up your belongings, Brown suggested.

If there’s evidence of bed bugs upon a thorough room inspection, request a different room or, if possible, go to a different location.

“But the more hotels and motels you stay in, the greater the probability of being bitten by bed bugs,” said Dr. Roger Gold, urban and public health entomologist with AgriLife Research in College Station.

“They have really proliferated over the past several years throughout Texas and the rest of the U.S.”

Gold said newly hatched bed bugs are about the same size as a sesame seed, only flatter, and can hide in a variety of cracks, crevices, nooks and crannies.

A large adult bed bug, about the size of an apple seed, can be mistaken for a tick.

Brown and Gold said there are some steps travelers can take to protect themselves from these pests and reduce the risk of bringing them home.

The first is to have housekeeping vacuum thoroughly to remove as many bed bugs and their eggs from mattresses, box springs, carpets and other areas, concentrating particularly on mattress and box springs seams, tufts and edges, as well as where baseboards and carpet meet.

Entomologists say bed bugs are thought to locate their human hosts by body heat and the carbon dioxide exhaled during respiration, but some bed bugs may wander before they locate a host.

Therefore,  people should take steps to  reduce the risk of taking the pests home with them when they leave their temporary accommodations.

Since bed bugs crawl into cracks and crevices near the bed, they suggested keeping suitcases off the floor.

“Placing luggage in the bath tub may be an option since it has smooth sides and may be harder for bed bugs to access,” Brown noted.

“If there’s any positive at all to bed bug bites, it’s that they’re relatively painless,” Gold said. “Typically they’ll feed and be gone and you won’t even know it.”

However, about half of all people bitten have an allergic reaction to the saliva injected while bed bugs feed, Brown said.

“It’s the people with the allergic reaction who develop the welts,” she said. “This also explains why there have been many cases where people are unaware that they have bed bugs – because they aren’t reacting to the bite – as well as why one person develops welts while another in the same room doesn’t.”

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How To Protect Yourself Against BedBugs This Summer

1 Jul

 

7/1/2011 How To Protect Yourself Against Bedbugs This Summer

If you’re worried about encountering bed bugs this summer, or — poor you — you’re already coping with them, you’re in good company. One in five Americans has had bed bugs or knows someone who has, and 80 percent are afraid of encountering them in hotels, according to a survey by the National Pest Management Association. And for once, a public health panic is reasonably well-founded; bed bugs are indeed turning up in hot spots all over the country, with new infestations in major cities hitting the news with regularity.

I’ve been reporting on bed bugs for quite awhile. I’ve covered how to protect yourself from bed bugs when you travel, including a new spray product reputed to fend them off from hitching home in your luggage, and how to get rid of bed bugs if you are unfortunate enough to bring them home with you. I’ve even offered additional bed bug prevention tips for frequent travelers.  In fact, I’ve become something of a reluctant expert in the science of bed bugs and bed bug-prevention. So now I’m going to tell you what you really need to know about bed bugs that no one else is telling you.

1. Know Your Danger Spots. If your summer vacation is going to take you touring the National parks of the West or Southwest, you probably don’t have to take more than routine precautions against bed bugs. They really haven’t made it out to the hinterlands in great numbers yet. But if your summer travel is going to take you to a major cities, particularly one in the midwest or eastern seaboard, watch out. The list of contenders for the “top 10″ danger zones in constantly changing as new pest reports come in, but Cincinnati, New York, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and, perhaps surprisingly, Denver and Los Angeles consistently make the list. Boston and Baltimore made a recent list issued by pest management company Terminix, which also included Dallas and San Francisco for the first time. Other midwestern cities with major bed bug problems include Dayton, Cleveland, and Columbus, Ohio (in fact the entire state of Ohio is under siege, according to pest management experts), Indianapolis, Minneapolis, and Louisville, Kentucky. Another list added Houston and Las Vegas to the list of western cities newly introduced to the bed bug disaster. (Thanks to Terminix, Orkin, and ChemtecPest for these lists.) If you want to know how bad bed bugs are in your summer vacation destination, look it up in the bed bug registry, which keeps up-to-date reports which can even be searched by hotel. Warning: gross-out factor high. Be aware, however, that you may be looking at reports from a year or more ago, in which case the particular hotel may have cleaned up its act.

2. Be an assertive detective. No, it doesn’t feel polite to go up to the desk and say you think your room might have bed bugs. But wouldn’t you rather do that than get bitten or, worse, bring them home? The bed bug situation, unfortunately, forces us to set squeamishness aside and talk about gross stuff. So, as soon as you get in your room (before opening your suitcase, even to take out your toothbrush!) inspect like crazy. Don’t just take the sheets off the bed, strip it down to the mattress. Look for the telltale black spots and darkish stains around the edges of the mattress. You’re unlikely to see the bugs themselves, which are a clear color and tiny, the size of sesame seeds. But you can see their “leavings,” a disgusting combination of their shells and bits of blood from their human dinner. Check upholstered chairs, too.  If you see anything at all, ask for another room, preferably on another floor. If you see anything suspicious in that room, try a completely different wing or, if possible, another hotel. This is really the primary bed bug prevention strategy available: check, look again, and leave if you see anything.

3. Travel Prepared. The last thing you want to do is arrive and start worrying about bed bugs. Take the worry out of travel by bringing protective supplies, including plastic bags to store your clothes in (those air-lock travel bags do double-duty by making extra room in your suitcase, as well as keeping bugs out.) Don’t be tempted to hang your clothes in hotel closets or leave them strewn over chairs, unless you’re 100-percent certain the room’s bug free; bed bugs are now known to favor upholstered furniture and yes, they can climb walls. Put your suitcase on a luggage rack and pull it out from the wall. If you’re going to New York, Ohio, or anywhere else where bed bugs are known to be, well, practically everywhere, you ca also bring a household remedy reputed to keep them at bay. (No guarantees here.) These can include Vaseline, which some say you use to coat the legs and rails of the bed so the bugs can’t climb up, and an herbal spray, Rest Easy, that promises to repel bed bugs. I travel with it and spray it around the edges of my suitcase and all over the luggage rack, just in case. Or you can take the extreme measure being recommended by some and bathe the bed rails, headboard, and the edges of the mattresses in a mixture of rubbing alcohol and floor cleaner. (Seriously, people recommend this but it smells so vile you’re probably better off staying home.) When I come home from a trip, I wash everything I’ve brought with me and dry it in a hot dryer and leave my suitcase stored in a plastic garbage bag for two weeks, also with “just in case” in mind.

There’s a lot more to say about bed bugs, but I’ve probably disgusted you enough for one day. More posts to come, including how to get rid of bed bugs once you’ve got ‘em. Still excited about that summer vacation? Just kidding.

 Continue Reading More: How To Protect Yourself Against Bedbugs This Summer

 

 

 

 

BedBug Lawsuits Causes Concern For Insurers

20 Jun

6/20/2011 Bedbug Lawsuits Causes Concerns For Insurers

Jeffrey White, a research entomologist with Bed Bug Central in New Jersey, says the bed bug problem is worldwide, though he has seen a dramatic increase in the Northeast. “We use New York City as the barometer for what’s going to happen across this entire country over the next five to ten years.”

A simple review of the online resource, bedbugregistry.com, which shows real time reports of bed bug infestations, confirms the higher incidence of bed bugs in the upper Northeast.

White says he’s seen a rise in calls for expert advice and retention. The number of calls has increased dramatically in the past six months. “We are averaging at least one call a week.”

White notes the calls are evenly split between defense and plaintiff attorneys. The defendants involved are mainly hotels, group homes, apartments, and property management companies.

In White’s experience most lawsuits involving bed bugs settle prior to trial and he is only asked to review the case files and provide an opinion. He emphasizes taking proactive measures to identify and prevent bed bugs early on. Then, he recommends an aggressive action plan to treat the problem.

“Where people are finding themselves in a lot of hot water is when they stick their head in the sand about bed bugs. They don’t have any type of action plan created. They show up and don’t know how to react to the problem. Weeks go by and no action is taken, or they call the cheapest exterminator they can find and they come in and don’t do anything even close to a good treatment for bed bugs.”

Documentation is just as important, White points out.

“That is where a lot of cases have had to settle. People claim they did everything they could have done, but the paperwork does not reflect their claims.”

Pest management records and documentation is equally important. White hasn’t seen many pest control companies named in lawsuits; however, they can get pulled in at any moment.

While most of the lawsuits White has seen involve bodily injury and property claims for medical bills, scarring and furniture replacement, he has noticed a number of plaintiffs also claiming emotional distress.

“We’ve seen a lot of people that are claiming psychological trauma.”

Emotional distress claims range from not being able to sleep at night to having problems at work as a result of the lack of sleep.

During a breakout session of the Orkin-sponsored virtual bed bug summit held in April, Michael Weisburger, president of the PlanetPCO Insurance Group, emphasized that media attention is playing a major role on how bed bug claims are perceived.

“In the event of a highly publicized claim situation, the public will dictate whether or not the damages are “real”. What’s overstated and sensationalized is real! Insurance companies have to contend with all of this hysteria. Insurance companies are having a difficult time getting their arms around how to measure what losses exist and what potential losses exist in claims involving bed bugs.”

While typical property policies don’t cover damage or treatment of bedbugs, general liability policies do come into play. When investigating a bed bug claim and the potential for subrogation, adjusters should check to see if the insured is a named additional insured on the pest management company’s policy.

The NPMA’s Web site has a section devoted entirely to bed bugs. The NPMA recommends visual inspection as the preferred method of determining whether a bed bug infestation exists. The size and color of an apple seed, bed bugs like to travel hiding in suitcases, boxes, and shoes.

“Bed bugs can be very hard to detect until their levels of infestation get to be large,” says Henriksen.

A bed bug hatches from an egg and has five nymphal stages where it will shed an exoskeleton. Each time the new shell will harden and in the final stage it will become a male or female. The bed bug enjoys a blood meal at each stage and will feed multiple times as an adult. The lifespan of a bedbug is typically three months, though they can live up to a year if food is limited. The female will go through multiple reproductions, laying approximately five eggs at a time and between 20 and 100 in her lifetime.

Henriksen recommends watching out for itchy bumps or welts. Bed bugs tend to bite in a pattern or line. When changing sheets it’s a good idea to inspect the bed, mattress, headboard, box spring, and dust ruffle. Pepper-like flakes can be a sign of bed bug excrement or blood debris.

Continue Reading More: BedBug Lawsuits Causes Concerns For Insurers