Don’t Let Bed Bugs Take a Bite Out of Your Business Reputation
Barely the size of an apple seed,Don’t Let Bed Bugs Take a Bite Out of Your Business Reputation Articles the tiny bed bug is creating major headaches for business owners. A nuisance pest that does not transmit disease, the unsavory fact that bed bugs feed on human blood engenders a level of revulsion well out of proportion to their miniscule size. When this parasitic insect infests a retail store or commercial business office, the public stigma associated with bed bugs can cause employees to panic, send customers fleeing, damage the firm’s business reputation and tarnish its corporate brand. That’s a heavy price to pay for a problem over which business owners have no control.
Unlike other unsavory pests, a bed bug infestation is not an indication of poor sanitation or lax maintenance. Bed bugs ride into a retail shop or office building hidden on the clothing and in the possessions of customers and employees. “Bedbugs are hitchhikers; they travel with people and with items that travel with people,” National Pest Management Association (NPMA) spokeswoman Missy Henriksen told USA Today in an August 2010 interview. What frustrates business owners is that they are being held accountable and burdened with the cost of getting rid of a problem they did not create.
Virtually unheard of in the U.S. a decade ago, bed bug infestations have tripled in the U.S. since 2005, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A major headache for hoteliers since they started returning to the U.S. in the luggage of foreign travelers, bed bugs gradually spread to travelers’ homes and in the past year have been increasingly discovered in commercial buildings. In a 2010 survey conducted by the NPMA and University of Kentucky, 20% of U.S. pest control firms reported treating bed bug infestations in commercial buildings, compared to less than 1% in 2007.
As the nation’s busiest international gateway, New York City has Pest control suffered early in the national bed bug invasion and has proven to be an indicator of the growing pattern of bed bug infiltration for other cities. In recent months, bed bug infestations have moved beyond hotels and residential buildings and been increasingly reported in NYC retail stores, popular entertainment venues and commercial office buildings. Bed bugs have also hit hotels and motels nationwide, government offices in Washington D.C., Federal offices in Philadelphia and Kentucky, and most recently a well-known high-rise business tower in Chicago.
Adept hitchhikers, bed bugs are easily transported between home and work in backpacks, shopping bags, briefcases, purses, gym bags, laptop computer cases and the suitcases of frequent travelers. Customers, employees, vendors, cleaning staff, and maintenance contractors — anyone can bring bed bugs into a place of business. Bed bugs have been found in office furniture and supplies transported in an infested delivery truck. When bed bugs invade, file cabinets, wooden desks, upholstered chairs, cubicle walls, carpeting, employee lockers, padded benches in changing rooms and cluttered bookshelves provide attractive harborage. “They (bed bugs) tend to prefer fabrics and wood, but they can be drawn to warmth and end up almost anywhere,” warned national bed bug expert Michael Potter, a University of Kentucky entomologist, in an August 2010 article posted on Forbes.com.