An outbreak of bed bugs was last week reported to have caused panic in France, and with the insects allegedly having made their way to London tube stations, The Morning Advertiser has looked at how pubs can keep infestations “at bay”.
British Pest Control Association (BPCA) technical support officer John Horsley warned bed bugs could be a “costly pest” for hospitality businesses, resulting in a loss of trade and the need to replace furniture.
He said: “As well as the cost of replacement furniture, mattresses, towels and bedding, or having to close for extensive treatment, a ruined reputation can cause a loss of future revenue.
“If customers experience a bug infestation, they are likely to complain and request a refund.
“But they may also review your company negatively online and share their experience on social media.
“The worst-case scenario is that the media then reports on the story and causes further reputational damage.”
Horsley further warned customers taking hospitality firms to court over bed bugs was not “unheard of”.
“There are even lawyers who specialise in bed bug compensation cases”, he added.
The technical support officer explained bed bugs tend to be “more common” during and towards the end of summer as they move around in search of food or after mating.
He said: “It’s holiday season, which means more travel and more chances for them to hitchhike a ride into our homes.
“Bed bugs are travel experts. It’s not always obvious where they’ve come from, but commonly they can be introduced to your property after attaching themselves to luggage, bags, clothes or through second-hand furniture and even laptops.
“They are small, agile and avoid detection by crawling into concealed locations.
“Another factor is that bed bugs usually thrive during the warmer months of the year when they are more active, feeding and mating.”
Horsley advised the best way to keep bed bugs “at bay” was to have a preventative pest management contract in place with a qualified and reputable pest control company, ideally one that is a member of an industry trade association.
“They will do proactive checks to make sure you don’t have any issues, and should a problem be identified, can deal with it promptly before the infestation becomes unmanageable”, he added.
Should operators suffer an infestation, the technical support officer urged getting in touch with a pest control contractor “without delay” was imperative as the insects “spread quickly”.
He continued: “If operators don’t have a pest control contract in place, they should get one immediately.
“It won’t just cover for bed bugs and, as a pub owner, you need to make sure your premises are free of rats, mice, wasps or any other pest problems.”