What is a bed bug infestation? One bed bug? Twenty bed bugs? 200 bed bugs?!?

by nobugsonme on May 5, 2008 · 2 comments

in bed bugs, bed bugs in hotels

This bed bug story from KHON2 (Fox) in Honolulu interested me.

First, it’s a cautionary tale about how easily bed bugs spread: this woman says she spent one hour at an event held in a hotel lounge and then unwittingly took bed bugs home:

Yumi Suh says she and several friends spent just over an hour at the veranda room at the Halekulani Hotel and returned home with much more than they arrived with.

But what really interested me was what Suh reports as the hotel’s insurance company’s perplexing response to her complaint.

Suh claims they did not deny there were bed bugs in the room Suh and her friends were socializing in. They simply did not define it as a bed bug “infestation.”

After discovering she brought bed bugs home,

Suh immediately informed the hotel and was eventually referred to its insurance company.

“When they called me they said although they did found bed bugs because the place was not infested yet — that they’re not liable,” she said.

What is an infestation?

Houghton Mifflin defines “to infest” as:

1. To inhabit or overrun in numbers or quantities large enough to be harmful, threatening, or obnoxious: rats infesting the sewers; streets that were infested with drugs.
2. To live as a parasite in or on: livestock that were infested with tapeworms.

Since even one bed bug can be “threatening, or obnoxious,” and even one will feed off of you, then by these definitions even a few bed bugs could be considered an infestation, in my opinion.

It stands to reason that the word might need to be defined differently whether one is talking about roaches, bed bugs, or flies.

Halekulani officials declined to comment because the case is still under investigation. But in a letter to Suh, an insurance investigator wrote:

An exterminator was called in the following day to inspect, based upon your report, who then did find a small scattering of bed bugs at only one table, to the lower section of the chair.

It went on to say:

After the treatment, several other chairs at this table were then found to have a very small amount of bugs at the lower section.

“One female can lay up to 500 eggs — and up to five a day — so you only need one to infest your whole house,” said Suh.

Several chairs each had “small scatterings” and “small amounts” of bed bugs.

Can some of our bed bug professionals tell us how they define “infestation”?

Suh allegedly brought bed bugs home from the hotel:

In the days that followed, more bites surfaced and more bedbugs.
“So when the Terminix guy came and we inspect the bed we found two of the bed bugs hiding in this corner,” said Suh. “It’s right there, there’s two of them. We’re going to I think just throw it away.”

Suh spent 600 dollars to treat one bedroom. She says as an acknowledgement for her notice the hotel made a “Good Will” offer of $250 dollars to her. The offer is a thank you and is not intended to be a claim payment. “They did not apologize for the inconveniences,” she said.

“Thank you” for taking our bed bugs?!

Bed bugs were allegedly found on the undersides of what sounds like at least three different chairs, so in my understanding, it would be hard to argue they just wandered out of a guest’s purse.

We definitely don’t have all the information here, but that sounds like an infestation to me.

1 nobugsonme August 8, 2008 at 12:21 am

Follow-up from the Pacific Business Journal in July confirms there was a bed bug “incident” at the Halekulani in April and that it was “amicably resolved with the patron.”

Though it is not made clear, this was likely the same incident.

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