An emerging problem
Abetted by ever-increasing intercontinental travel, recent years have seen an exponential rise in the number of cases of infestation of those pests known as “bed bugs”. Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are hematophagous insects that feed on blood, mainly human blood, at night, attracted by the heat and carbon dioxide emitted by the body.
They are visible to the naked eye and, given their morphology, can slip in almost anywhere and are particularly adept at concealing themselves from daylight. They are most commonly found in areas where people sleep, including hotels and other accommodation facilities. They generally concentrate in beds, in proximity to the host: mattresses, pillows, bed bases and headboards.
Other sites that often harbour bed bugs are curtains, inside corners of wardrobes and other furniture, cracks in the walls, baseboards or loosened portions of wallpaper, particularly near the bed.
Adult bed bugs, measuring between 5 and 7 millimetres, are light brown which veers to reddish after dining on blood.
As regards reproduction, bed bugs can lay up to five eggs a day for a total of 500 eggs in a lifetime.
In living areas of average temperature, a bed bug reaches maturity in approximately five weeks from the moment the eggs hatch.
No category of hotel can be considered safe, none can claim to be bed bug free because their presence does not depend on hygiene or cleanliness: they are a true and proper threat for the hotel industry which could pay a steep price - high costs of disinfestation and damaged reputation which translates into reduced income.