Bed Bugs on the Rise - Even in Fancy Hotels

Seattle Post Intelligencer
Thursday, August 25, 2011

SEATTLE -- Check into a four or five star hotel and the last thing you expect to encounter is a bed bug.

But in Seattle and across the country, the reports of bed bugs in nicer hotels are on the rise.

Generally speaking, where you find large populations of people, you'll find bedbugs.

"The intensity of bedbug calls started occurring roughly about 10 years ago and it's only increased ever since," said Ron Wikstrom, with Eden Advanced Pest Technologies.

Wikstrom said even one bedbug is a problem. And these tiny, torturous creatures hitch-hike all over the world, sometimes taking up residence in hotels.

Philip Vaughn, with Kirkland-based Raveable.com, a hotel review website, said the number of individual hotels reported to have bedbugs in Seattle is skyrocketing.

"This summer, Seattle's been hammered over last year," Vaughn said. "We have liked a 500 percent increase year over year in terms of the number of reports of bedbugs."

Vaughn said they've received 16 reported cases of bedbugs in Seattle hotels so far this year, compared with six for all of last year.

You might be shocked to learn that several of those hotels are 4-star properties.

"There is no hotel that's immune," he said.

Experts stress that may not be because hotels are doing anything wrong. it's just that bedbugs don't discriminate.

So what can you do to protect yourself when you travel?

"We've lost the habit of turning up the covers and looking at the corners of the bed and maybe even looking behind the bed board for certain signs of bedbugs," Vaughn said.

See any signs? Ask for another room. And even if you don't see any bedbugs, take extra steps to protect yourself.

"If you're traveling, you would take your suitcase, you might want to put it in the bathtub, versus putting it next to a wall or something of that nature," Wikstrom said.

Bedbugs hide in wall sockets and other crevices and cracks. They can go undetected until they're hungry again and you're their meal ticket.

So which cities have the biggest increase in hotel bed bug reports - according to Raveable.com?

Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Las Vegas; Chicago; San Francisco; New York City