Bed Bugs

In Australia, Bed Bugs are most commonly found in the accommodation Industry where there is a high turnover of tourists. Bed Bugs are transported with people’s luggage and clothing but not on the person and as we all stay in motels or hotels at some stage they can be transported into our homes. Bed Bugs have also been found in second hand furniture and luggage.

Bed Bugs pass through an egg and five nymphal stages to become an adult. The nymphs and adults leave their harbourage to feed every 2-3 days. They feed for only 3-5 minutes in the hours prior to dawn and return to their harbourage. Their presence can be detected by the bites, dots of blood on the sheets, a sickly sweet odour and inspection of potential harbourages by looking for dried blood deposits around cracks in the bed, bed head, bedside furniture and mattress.

With the insurgence of Bed Bugs, treating this elusive insect has now become a tremendous challenge to the Pest Control Industry & Hospitality Industry.

Bed Bug eradication 

Not all pest control companies will treat Bed Bugs, because to successfully treat this insect it takes specialised training, dedication and perseverance.  By implementing the “best practice” recommendations of the ‘Bed Bug Code of Practice’, we are able to offer our client/s the best possible treatment for Bed Bug eradication. The elimination process incorporates an inspection along with the use of Steam, Vacuuming and Chemical applications – attention to detail is essential.  It must be emphasised that this can only be achieved with the total cooperation of all stakeholders.

If you think you have Bed Bugs –  call us and down load a bedbug code of


Accommodation Industry

Hygiene – A regular regimen of vacuuming to all areas of a room, especially around skirtings and under lounges and sofas, can reduce the severity of a bed bug infestation, and limit the potential for spreading an infestation. The contents of the vacuum should be sealed and discarded, and the vacuum when not in use should ideally be confined to the one location.  For larger establishments vacuums and cleaning trolleys should be confined to one floor or to a certain section of a floor.  Bed bugs can be transferred via cleaning trolleys and isolating the trolleys to an area should help contain this possibility.  A minimum of items should be brought into the room, for example cleaning trolleys should be left outside.  Any crevices on the cleaning trolleys should be sealed with a caulking agent.  Clutter in a room should be kept to a minimum.

Linen handling – All used sheets and bedding should be sealed in plastic bags within the room before taken outside and placed into linen hoppers. For a known or suspected bed bug infestation, the bedding should be placed into alginate bags.  Clean and used linen should be kept separate at all times; they should not be transported to and from rooms via the same trolleys.  It may be advisable to colour code linen hoppers to distinguish between clean and used linen.  If linen is washed by outside contractors, the clean and used linen should not be transported in the same vehicle.

Guest Linen & Bedding – As the transmission of bed bugs is linked with bedding, guests should not be allowed to use their own sleeping bags and linen.  Ideally, sleeping bags should not be allowed in the bedroom but sealed in a plastic bag and placed in a separated storage room.  The Hotelier should explain to the client the need for this.  All linen should be provide by and laundered by the accommodation facility or contractor, which should be in hot water, preferably on a daily basis.  For backpacking lodges, rooms should have multi-lingual signs requesting guests to use the linen provided.

Luggage – Isolating luggage such as backpacks and other belongings separately from rooms may help in preventing the transmission of bed bugs but this practice presents obvious logistical problems in terms of storage and security of belongings. If the bags are to be stored elsewhere, this would have to be in metal lockers which provides fewer harbourages and could be readily treated, otherwise the storage area could aid in the spreading of the bugs.  As there is not current information on the benefit of such procedures they are not recommended within the Bed Bug CoP.

Bed Design – Metal framed beds can limit the impact of bed bugs as they provide little in the way of harbourages and the bed bugs are averse to climbing smooth hard surfaces.  Thus metal frames can help to contain an infestation; if the bugs fall off the bed they are unlikely to climb back up and eventually die with out a blood meal.  Wooden beds offer numerous cracks and crevices for harbourages, and provide many footholds for the insect.

The inherent advantages of metal beds can be rendered ineffective if valances or bed linen are in constant contact with the floor or walls, or if curtains are touching the bed. Such contact will allow access from the bed bugs.  Ideally, the metal bed frame should be constructed so that the feet of the legs splay out so that it is impossible to push the bed hard against the wall.  To be most effective, the bed must be made like an island and be isolated.

Other bed designs are not so effective at containing an infestation.  Ensemble beds contain may places for bed bugs to hide and lay their eggs, The base of this bed type is especially notorious; the material base cover limits inspection and the areas between the staples are a favoured bed bug haunt.  If the caster legs are plastic, they will be hollow and provide further harbourages.  The other problem with ensemble bases is that they can be pushed hard against the wall enabling the eggs to spread via the wall and utilise other locations in the room as harbourages.

In motels the bed head is usually a separate component to that of the mattress and often firmly fixed to the wall.  This makes inspection and treatment impossible unless the bed head can be completely removed from the wall (often they are nailed or even glued in place).  If power points are attached to the bed head, this can make the inspection more time consuming as power will have to be turned off and electrical fittings disconnected and treated.  Where such electrical wires penetrate the wall, this can be an access point which the infestation can spread to adjoining units.  Often the bed heads are made of laminated chipboard, which provides numerous harbourages.  Such materials should be avoided in a room to limit bed bug infestations.  Ideally in a bed bug unfriendly room bed heads would not be used.

 Mattress Design & Mattress Covers – As bed bugs often hide on the seams of mattress, a seamless mattress, such as the solid rubber foam variety, may be less attractive to bed bugs as fewer harbourages are available.  The alternative is to have a seamless mattress cover that can be easily removed for regular washing.  If not prohibited to do so, all tags, labels and corner protectors should be removed from the mattress to limit harbourage areas.

Room Furnishings & Room Construction – For the other areas of the room, access for inspection and treatment, and reduction in harbourages should always be the overriding design philosophy for the bed bug unfriendly room.  For example, fixed cupboards should be replaced with metal, removable shelves. While these are probably not as aesthetically pleasing, control would be easier as there are fewer places for bed bugs to hide.  Many hotels use cane or wicker furniture, especially in seaside and tropical locations. Such furniture is very bed bug friendly, offering numerous harbourages.  Likewise, so is open brickwork and sprayed concrete walls, such walls should be rendered and heavily painted or covered with plasterboard ensuring all joins are well sealed.  Carpeted floors provide more harbourages than solid tiles and carpet squares should be avoided.  Solid tiles have the advantage of being easily cleaned via vacuuming or even washed with hot water (or steam). Tiled floors do have associated noise issues for multi-storeyed dwellings.

Furniture Purchases – There are numerous reports of bed bugs being transmitted via second hand furniture. Hotels should not purchase and use any second hand mattresses, furniture or furnishings.

Ongoing Maintenance – The main aim of ongoing maintenance for preventing bed bugs is the reduction of potential harbourages via sealing any cracks and crevices.  Loose wallpaper should be reglued, while paint should not be allowed to deteriorate to the extent that it is flaking from the wall.  Decorative plates are often placed over wiring that penetrates into the walls and it is important that a seal such as silicon is placed around the wiring.  This is also true for any plumbing pipes.

Pest Inspections – Ongoing pest inspections are essential to reduce the severity of infestations.  Ideally this should be undertaken on a routine basis by housekeeping staff when linen is changed and the inspection date recorded, even if no bugs are noticed.  The frequency of inspections should be dictated by the number of past infestations and modified according to the rate of new infestations.

Tracking Infestations – Hotels belonging to a chain should advise their head office of any infestation and the possibility of new infestations via guest transferring between hotels.

Risk Assessment & Management – Those in the accommodation industry, who are seriously affected by bed bugs, should undertake a risk analysis of past infestations.  Rooms afflicted should be analysed to see where the past guests have come from, whether they be from a local region or from overseas.  If clear patterns emerge, then the high risk groups should be kept separately from the low risk groups.  This may help to contain infestations to certain rooms and to a certain area of a facility. 


Reference: A code of Practice for the Control of Bed Bug Infestations in Australia – Stephen L Doggett