FORT SMITH (KFSM) — A prominent hotel owner in the area says bed bugs are a big and growing problem at every price point, from luxury to economy hotels.
Exterminators treat them in homes, schools, businesses, prisons and even churches.
“We see bed bugs every single day,” said Justin Shoup, owner of Extermco.
Shoup has been in the termite and pest control business for decades. He said bed bugs are a fairly new problem to the area. He treated them for the first time in 2009 and said they work more cases each year.
“We’re just in the thick of it now,” Shoup said. “It’s going to get worse before it gets better.”
He said the best way to spot a bed bug is to look for evidence they leave behind that cannot move. That includes human blood spots, eggs, droppings and their outer shells they shed.
“The bugs will hide,” Shoup said. “All those will not.”
When travelling, experts recommend leaving your luggage in the car or hotel bathtub. When you get to the hotel, check under the mattress, box spring, headboard and nightstands for any signs of bed bugs.
“We've had everything from really nice expensive hotels to economy, and every single one of our hotels has had a bed bug incident,” said Storm Nolan, partner at CSK Hotels.
He said that is mainly because bed bugs latch onto luggage and other belongings. The bugs will crawl out and go to dark, warm locations like a mattress. After guests leave, Nolan’s staff inspect the room every time.
He said they strip the bed and look in all the crevices where a bed bug would hide. If a room tests positive, it immediately goes out of order, as do the surrounding rooms. Rooms are treated with heat and then chemicals for extra insurance.
“We treat the room for three days, but we leave it out of order for seven days just to make sure in that period there's no more activity,” Nolan said.
Your home can be expensive to treat. Exterminators say you can buy products at the hardware store, but they recommend asking a professional for an inspection and advice. Most companies will do an inspection for free. Shoup recommends getting several quotes if you decide to hire a pest company.
“It's a very tedious process,” he said. “It takes hours and hours just to treat a room.”
Right now, bed bugs do not transmit any medical diseases, but that could change, according to Shoup.
Bed bugs do have a stigma. Exterminators say while they do treat low-income properties for them, the majority of bed bug issues come from people who travel a lot.