Many people mistakenly believe that bed bugs only infest mattresses and feed on you while you sleep. However, bed bugs desire blood and will feast on a human at home, on public transit, or at work.
Identifying Bed Bugs in the Workplace
The small oval-shaped bugs are wingless, but they still get around, hitching a ride on clothing and other items. Their flattened body allows them to hide in crevices, mattresses, electrical outlets, upholstery, seams of carpeting, behind wallpaper, in electrical devices such as computers, and on clothing. Bed bugs prefer to feed once a week, but they can live for months without food in a state of dormancy and females can lay between 200 to 400 eggs in their short lifetime. So, it doesn’t take long for an entire office to become infested with the pests.
Bed Bugs and the Office
Yes, bed bugs prefer living close to a bed, but they are opportunists so they will readily invade anywhere there is a potential meal. In the 2015 Bugs Without Borders report and survey performed by NPMA, it was revealed that up to 45 percent of all pest control companies have treated office buildings for a thriving bed bug infestation.
How Does an Office Bed Bug Infestation Happen?
Bed bugs are lightning fast. Their small, flat size means they can fit easily into the hemline or seams of clothing. A worker might pick up the bugs on public transportation or in a hotel room on a business trip or vacation. In most cases, the worker does not even know that they are the cause of the infestation. Bed bugs prefer to be within 20 feet of a bed however, they will adjust and live happily in the folds of an office chair, carpeting, or within electrical items.
Tips on How to Prevent Bed Bugs in the Workplace
Bed bugs in the workplace are quite common, especially in large cities. Here are a few tips on how to prevent bed bugs in the workplace:
- Cleanliness: Vacuum and clean the entire office regularly. You may want to invest in a professional cleaning crew to clean the hallways, kitchens, lobbies, public bathrooms, and storefronts daily.
- Avoid used items: While it’s nice to score a deal on like-new office chairs, you could be accidentally purchasing a headache if the chairs are infested with bed bugs.
- Inspect regularly: You must remain vigilant for bed bugs. Inspect all upholstery, around and under desks, along baseboards, behind wallpaper, in electrical outlets, behind the artwork, in surge protectors, along beams, in electronics such as computers, phones, or clocks which are all common hiding places for bed bugs. Signs of bed bugs include living bugs that are flat and about the size of an apple seed, shed exoskeletons, brownish or reddish spots on upholstery and other surfaces left behind by the insect.
- Eliminate clutter: Clutter makes it hard to detect bed bugs and gives them more places to hide. This is especially true of storage areas.
- Office meeting: Host an office meeting to educate your employees about bed bugs. Some of your employees might be unfamiliar with the very real threat. By teaching them to identify the bugs and signs of an infestation you can have everyone on the lookout.
- Develop policies: You should develop and implement policies for employees to report bed bugs either at the office or at their own homes.
- Inspections: Employ a pest control company to do regular bed bug checks and to spray for other pests.
Coping with an Infestation in the Office
If the unthinkable happens and your office becomes infested with a colony of bed bugs you should call in a professional exterminator immediately, to avoid your employees bringing the pests home. While the office has bed bugs, provide your employees with Tyvek suits, overalls, and shoe covers. Give them plastic sealable bags or storage container to store their personal belongings while at work to prevent infestations. Disclose the infestation to your employees so they can take the necessary precautions of having their homes and vehicles checked for the insects.
The Reality of Bed Bugs in the Workplace
As bed bug populations rise worldwide, the risk of bed bugs in the workplace is becoming a common reality. Prevention is the key, but if the unthinkable should happen and the office becomes infested then you should deal with the problem immediately for the sake of your employees and clients.
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