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An encounter with a pest in a hotel can ruin a guest’s stay and result in negative comments on social media spreading a bad reputation for the hotel, seriously affecting business. An infestation of pests can also result in authorities taking legal action to ensure public safety, especially if the kitchens, restaurants and bars are affected.
Pests can enter any class of hotel — some are brought in by the guests themselves — so it is essential for every hotel to have effective procedures for preventing, monitoring and controlling pests.
Five of the most common pests that guests encounter in hotels are:
In the last two decades bed bugs have become more common with the increase in international travel. Bed bugs are the most difficult pest to prevent from entering a hotel because they are mainly brought onto the premises by guests themselves — even the best hotels can suffer from an infestation.
Bed bugs can survive for several months without feeding so can easily be taken from hotel to hotel in luggage over several trips.
No guest wants to return from a hotel with a set of irritating bites that can last for days. A lingering reminder of a bad experience is far more likely to lead to a complaint on social media.
The key to preventing bed bugs attacking the guests is to identify the problem as early as possible and take steps to eliminate them.
Bed bug feeding
Bed bugs are attracted to a feeding host by warmth, carbon dioxide and various body chemicals. They need to stay near potential hosts to be successful at getting a blood meal. If they are starved, however, they will crawl some distance and spread from room to room, both horizontally and vertically to other floors.
Bed bugs are mainly nocturnal feeders, crawling out of their shelters in the dark and using their sensors to find a warm, breathing body. They crawl on the bedding and feed where bare skin touches the bedding, which is usually face, neck, hands and arms, leaving a distinctive line of bites on the skin. Bed bugs need only 5-10 minutes of undisturbed feeding to be full.
With an adequate supply of blood, a female bed bug can lay 200-500 eggs per month. The eggs hatch and the young mature into adults over about 5 weeks, which can lead to a rapid increase in population if not checked.
Bed bug prevention
Prevention of bed bugs requires an integrated approach to detect and eliminate them economically, with minimal danger to guests and staff, property, and the environment.
An effective bed bug prevention strategy requires a system of:
The best strategy is to implement suitable measures to prevent an infestation taking hold:
Contact us to find out about bed bug control.
Western Exterminator’s Entotherm heat treatment
Western Exterminator’s Entotherm heat treatment is a chemical-free method of controlling bed bugs — and other insects such as cockroaches — through the targeted application of heat. It is applied to a whole room to ensure that structural areas that are difficult to access with traditional chemicals are treated. It is safe and highly effective with one treatment.
Cockroaches are a pest where there are readily available food sources. In hotels, cockroaches can infest kitchens, restaurants, bars, public washrooms in the lobby or bathrooms in the guest rooms. They are primarily nocturnal, preferring to stay in a shelter during daytime and searching for food at night. They take shelter in small dark places in furniture, equipment, food packaging, cracks and crevices in the building structure, and in hidden places such as along pipework and cables and inside drain pipes and sewers.
There are several species of cockroach with slightly differing habitat preferences, but generally they prefer warm and humid places.
Apart from a negative reaction customers and staff may have on encountering this insect, cockroaches are a health hazard due to their habits of:
Cockroaches can feed on almost anything organic, including cardboard, and on tiny amounts of foods and liquids, therefore good sanitation is the key to prevention. This includes:
Fleas are a major annoyance to hotel guests because of their irritating bites. Also, unlike bed bugs, they are a potential health risk as they can give their hosts a number of diseases from bacteria, viruses and parasites that they carry.
Fleas tend to prefer particular animal hosts to feed and breed on, but there are several types that can bite humans apart from the human flea, including cat, dog, bird and rat fleas.
Hotel guests are a major source of fleas, as are pet dogs and cats. Pest animals can also bring fleas into hotels, including birds and rats nesting on or in the building. When the host animal leaves the nest, which could be as a result of pest control measures, fleas will seek new hosts elsewhere in the building.
Like bed bugs, fleas require a blood meal to lay eggs, but unlike bed bugs, fleas lay their eggs on an animal’s hair or feathers, human clothing, or in the sleeping area of the host animal. The eggs hatch into larvae in 2-14 days. These feed on any organic matter, especially adult flea feces in the nesting area of the host animal, vegetable matter and dead insects.
The larva of the human flea can take 19 days to develop into a pupa. The flea can survive over winter in the larva or pupa stage, or survive several months in the cocoon as an adult. However, once emerged from the cocoon the adults need a blood meal within a week to survive.
It is difficult to prevent fleas from entering a hotel, but once present they can be controlled by having a suitable management policy, including:
Western Exterminator’s flea treatment
Western Exterminator’s technicians are trained in identifying and controlling fleas. They understand the habits of different types of flea and can offer the most appropriate and effective solution for your hotel. All our treatments are safe for your guests, staff and pets.
A number of species of fly that are attracted to food products, including food waste, are pests in hotels. House flies, fruit flies, drain flies and blow flies are attracted to the food odors from kitchens and food preparation areas. The main pest species are the house fly and the fruit fly.
House flies are not just a nuisance to guests, they are also a health hazard from their habit of feeding and breeding on animal feces, garbage and rotting food.
House flies are attracted to almost any food, which they will contaminate on landing on it, with matter picked up on their body, from regurgitating digestive juices and from defecating on the food.
Microorganisms that flies can carry include: E. coli, Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, fungi and parasitic worms.
House flies can be a problem in restaurants, bars, kitchens, lobby areas and food delivery areas. Also, where food waste is stored outside flies can become a nuisance and enter rooms nearby via open windows and doors.
Fruit flies are attracted to fermenting and sugary liquids. Sources of these include food waste, overripe and damaged fruit and some types of vegetable, old drinks bottles, liquid spills, kitchen drains.
Fruit flies can contaminate food because they will pick up microorganisms from wherever they feed, including feces, which contains both spoilage microorganisms and diseases.
Fruit flies can be a pest in bars and restaurants, where many sweet and fermented drinks are served, kitchens and near food waste storage areas. The eggs are laid in semi-liquid material in rotting fruit and vegetables. The life cycle from egg to adult is completed in 14 days at 68°F or just 8 days at 86°F.
The most important way to control flies is by using standard food hygiene practices to deny them access to food sources, including food waste. These include:
Rats and mice are attracted to hotels by the food supplies in kitchens, restaurants and waste storage areas. Populations can quickly build up if there are poor food and waste handling practices.
It is not just guests’ reactions to rodents that can damage a hotel business; rodents can contaminate food and surfaces they run along with a range of diseases, including Salmonella, E. coli, Leptospirosis. They cause stock loss and can also damage packaging, fixtures, equipment and even wiring.
Staff should be trained how to spot the signs of rodents and implement procedures for their control. Distinctive signs of rats and mice include:
The most important means of preventing rodents, as with the other pests that are attracted to food, is eliminating their access to food, water and shelter inside and outside the hotel. Standard food hygiene practices in the food delivery, storage, preparation, serving and disposal areas are essential to deny rats and mice access to food.
Doorways, vents, windows and entry points for pipes and cables, should be designed to have no gaps and maintained to prevent holes forming around them. Rats and mice, especially the young, can squeeze through tiny gaps — a pencil-sized gap under a door is enough for a small mouse to get in.
Traps and poisons can be used to control rodents, but these are governed by various pieces of legislation, including food law and also environmental, wildlife, health and safety laws. Hotel operators should use professional pest controllers to ensure legal compliance and effective control, helping to protect brand reputation.