25% of hotel rooms have bed bugs? I don’t think so.

by nobugsonme on July 2, 2008 · 3 comments

in bed bugs, bed bugs in hotels

A reporter in this video from WRAL News “5 on Your Side” in Raleigh, North Carolina says that in a study of 700 hotel rooms done from 2002-2006, 25% had bed bugs.

This article from NBC 5 in Dallas / Ft. Worth cited a similar statistic:

First, know that high-end hotels are not immune to bed bugs. Steritech, a pest control company, studied 700 hotels and 24 percent of them had bed bug activity.

But Steritech’s results were not quite so drastic.

Business Week reported in its article “The Cost of Bed Bugs” last November (one we discussed here) that,

A study by the Steritech Group, a commercial and institutional pest management company, found that nearly 25% of the 700 hotels it tracked over a three-and-a-half year period between November, 2002, and April, 2006, required treatment for bedbugs, though of the 76,000 hotel rooms in the study, fewer than 1% were found to be infested.

Got that? 25% of the hotels required bed bug treatment, in a three-and-a-half year period. But fewer than 1% of the rooms were found to be infested. Since those 700 hotels had an average of 108 rooms, that’s about one infested room per hotel. And we can assume some hotels would have had multiple infested rooms, and others none.

(Incidentally, USA Today got the Steritech data right in this 2006 article, and, bless them, they chose not to round up, citing the number of infested rooms at a comforting 0.6%.)

Bed bugs are spreading, and we can assume that the numbers may be even higher in 2008, but there is no need to panic. Even if 5% of rooms were now infested (400% more infested rooms), you would still have a good shot at avoiding bed bugs, especially if you search your room carefully and take precautions as described in our travel FAQs.

I do think we need more publicity for the bed bug problem, and this WRAL story is not a bad piece otherwise, but there is no need for panic.

1 frank September 4, 2008 at 6:06 pm

I disagree. I’ve stayed at 2 hotels – both nicer-end hotels with good reputations and 4 out of the 6 rooms offered had bedbugs.

2 stays at 2 different hotels, each allowed me to inspect the rooms and I had to inspect 2 rooms before finding a third room where I couldn’t surmize any bedbugs; then again, I could have just been exhausted from the search too. I think the problem is BIGGER than reported.

2 nobugsonme September 5, 2008 at 1:44 am


As I said above, the study mentioned covered the period 2002-2006. Clearly, bed bugs have spread a lot since then (see any news article and you’ll find every city and town has PCOs attesting to this).

I don’t know the specifics of the research study done, but since it was done by a pest control industry company, it would be to their benefit, one would assume, to find as high a percentage of rooms infested as they were able to at the time.

See the trackback just below this comment: 8% of Tripadvisor users claim to have encountered bed bugs at least once. (Note: obviously, more would have encountered them and had no idea; some would likely also have had false alarms: mistaken another insect for bed bugs, unexplained and unconfirmed itching, etc.)

Still, your high incidence of bed bugs in hotel rooms seems very high to me. I also travel a lot and have stayed in many hotel rooms, from low-mid-range to upper-mid-range in quality, since beginning to search for bed bugs. I had one suspected encounter, but no definite visual evidence. (One bite thought to be bed bugs.) I picked most of them after some research (on TripAdvisor.com no less), but this will take you only so far.

I would not use my experience as the basis of an assessment of the incidence of bed bugs in hotel rooms, but I wouldn’t use yours either.

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