Monday, July 16, 2012

How to spot bed bugs in a hotel room

It is important to know how to spot bed bugs in a hotel room. The critters are sneaky little pests that like to hide. They can be hard to spot. Bed bugs are small and like to hide. They are also becoming a real nuisance.  I have found them in several hotels and took the photos that you see below. The thoughts of bringing even one of them home keeps me up at night. I decided to be proactive and learn what to look for. It's a good thing too.

Bed bugs under mattress
Bed bugs don't care if they are in budget accommodations or high rise luxury hotels. This woman says that she was bitten more than 200 times in the hotel she stayed in. After learning how to spot bed bugs in a hotel room, I can see how she could have so many bites.  

We found dozens when we moved the mattress. They hang out in groups and continue multiplying. I've been told that the bites can be mistaken for mosquito bites, ants or even confused with as poison ivy. Many people don't think twice about most of the above. Then again, many people never think about looking for bed bugs in hotel rooms.

The bugs themselves can range in color from dark brown to amber or red. Eggs can be white and about the size of a pin head. The ones that I noticed with active bed bugs looked like large grains of salt. Small rust colored stains or streaks of red can indicate infestation. Clusters of black dots can also indicate a possible problem.

Since bed bugs are nocturnal, it's important to recognize the signs that a room may be infested. The bed bugs themselves can be as tiny as the head of a pin, as large as a tick or even a small lightning bug. If you see one, then it's a safe bet that more are hiding in the room. For these reasons and more, it pays to learn how to spot bed bugs in a hotel.

The first thing I do at the hotel is to ask about seeing the room before renting it. If I'm told no, then I leave immediately. If the answer is yes, then I do the following:

1. Pull the sheets off of the mattress and pull the seams away from the mattress. The hope is that it will be free of rust colored stains (signs of possible bed bug activity), without bugs and free of anything that resembles coarse salt or pepper flakes.

2. My next step is to pull the mattress from the box spring and check in between the layers. This may sound like overkill but it's not. At one hotel, I pulled the mattress away and saw what appeared to be flakes of black pepper all over the box spring. Then I noticed the red stains on the side of the mattress and went back to the front desk at the hotel.

At another hotel, the mattress was free from stains and looked brand new. However; underneath the mattress were bed bugs that were the size of large ticks. We decided to deny them the opportunity for a meal and left the hotel.

Bed bugs that fell from headboard
3. If the first two steps are all clear then I do something that may annoy the neighbors. I push the box spring as close to the wall as possible and give the head board a good thump. Bed bugs like to hide there and any place else that they can find. Like in this photo, a good solid bump on the headboard can be enough to dislodge them. You can bet that I'm back at the front desk if anything falls.

Another tool that I use is the Bed Bug Registry. This website keeps a list of reported sightings from guests. The name and address of the hotels are listed along with the date of the report. It also includes any counter reports by the hotels. I've found it to be a useful guide. You can also find more images online that can help you spot bed bugs.

West Plaza Inns and Suites loses license because of bug infestation


  1. That's gross. Curious. What's your worst hotel experience?

  2. I have these black tiny bugs in my bed and on me at night have any idea what they are?!?!