Whether you work in an office environment or are a business owner, you are surely aware of the current bed bug epidemic. Even if you’ve never seen a live bug in person, the news headlines and lamentations by friends and family weigh on your mind. Yet most workplaces don’t have a plan of action for bed bugs, despite infestations so often starting there. Don’t wait until it’s too late — learn how to treat your workplace for bed bugs today so that your business stays bed bug free in the future.
More often than not, workplace infestations start by a bed bug hitchhiking from an individual’s home into the office, where they then find a hiding place somewhere in this new location. While many bugs found are simply adults in search of a new nest, some can be pregnant females that are ready to create a new infestation wherever they find their next host. It’s crucial that your workplace has a plan to monitor for bed bugs as well as to inspect and treat suspected areas.
Inspecting an Office for Bed Bugs
While their names may imply that bed bugs can only be found on your bed, that simply isn’t the case. You can find bed bugs anywhere where humans frequent. They like to tuck away in places out of sight and out of reach, such as between baseboards, floorboards, and the edge of the carpet. It’s also common to find bed bugs tucked away in furniture like chairs and desks.
You can start to inspect an office for bed bugs by inspecting the immediate area around each employee’s workspace. Make sure to perform your search slowly and thoroughly so you don’t miss anything.
If the office has hardwood or tile floors, shine a flashlight along any cracks or spaces between floor panels. Remember, a bed bug has a very flat body that can hide anywhere a credit card can fit. Use a bank card or something similar to scrape along cracks and crevices to try and dig out anything that might be hiding in them.
As a last measure, check any hanging picture frames or other wall decorations. Pull the cushions off any sofas or benches in the area and check their seams for warning signs. Remove the drawers from shelves and lockers and look inside the emptied cabinets.
What Signs to Look For
While bed bugs are visible to the naked eye, it’s not likely that you’ll find any running around in the open. If you do, that’s a bad sign – it suggests that you have a high active population nearby. In most cases, you’re more likely to find inanimate signs of bed bugs than you are to find the bugs themselves. Here are some examples:
They’re dark, they’re red, they’re round. This is arguably the most common sign of a recent bed bug feeding. However, they’re not the most convincing indicator of bed bug activity, since there are other bloodsuckers that could leave these spots behind.
These thin, dark streaks are left behind as bed bugs digest their latest blood meal. These droppings are made by heavily digested blood; they’ll smear red if you dab them with a wet cloth. Bed bug feces are usually smeared in thin streaks since they poop while walking. Gross.
Like other invertebrates, bed bugs need to shed their exoskeletons as they grow. When one shell gets too cramped, they shed it and grow a new, roomier shell in its place. Since bed bugs need a blood meal to grow to their next stage, finding these skins means that bed bugs have been feeding on somebody nearby.
If you do find a live bug, pay close attention to its shape, size, and color. Bed bugs are mostly round with a pointed posterior. Their shell is a dark reddish brown, and they’ll grow up to be about the size of an apple seed. They have six legs, short antennae, and no visible (or functional) wings. Make sure the bug you find matches this description before jumping to conclusions.
Treating Suspected Areas
If you’ve found signs of bed bugs or otherwise still suspect bed bug activity in a part of the office, it’s time to begin treatment. The sooner you start with a bed bug treatment, the greater your chance of success. This is due to the bed bugs’ rapid rate of feeding and reproducing — catching an infestation early means it’s smaller, with fewer bugs to address.
First up are the contact sprays, like STERI-FAB and JT Eaton Kills Bed Bugs. These will kill quickly, but evaporate shortly after, leaving no long-lasting protection. Spray along baseboards, below drawers and on drawer slides, behind cabinets, and behind desks. Follow up with a residual spray, such as Bedlam Plus and JT Eaton Kills Bed Bugs Plus. Residual sprays will offer long-lasting protection against bed bugs and hatchlings. Bedlam Plus is ideal for cracks and crevices throughout the room, while JT Eaton Plus can be used below the cushions and bases of chairs, sofas, carpet edges and other fabric items.
Remember that sprays shouldn’t be applied to areas that you’ll touch, walk on, or sit on. Sprays are designed to treat hiding places that bed bugs are or may be, and bed bugs tend to not want to hang out in open areas like the carpet or the tops of furniture.
Next, apply a bed bug powder into confined areas where it won’t be stirred up into the air. Places like the edges of carpeting, inside deep cracks and wall voids, and inside electrical outlets and light switches (accessed by removing the faceplate with a screwdriver) are good candidates for powders, as sprays can’t reach into these areas quite as well. We recommend using a professional powder applicator, which offers better control when applying the powder.
To ensure that all bed bugs are killed, reapply the contact and residual sprays two weeks after the initial treatment, then again two weeks after that, for a total of three applications. These reapplications make sure that any eggs that have hatched will be killed off so that they can’t create a new infestation. Bed bug powders will not need to be reapplied, as they work for as long as they remain dry and undisturbed.
Monitoring for Bed Bug Activity
Once a treatment is done, we still can’t be sure that the bed bugs are truly gone. Is the infestation eliminated, or are a few stragglers still hiding nearby? The best way to know for sure is with continued, post-treatment monitoring. Thanks to its long-term, low-maintenance function, the Bed Bug Plug is up to the task.
No active monitoring solution has ever been truly set and forget, where you can just stick it somewhere and leave it alone forever, but the Bed Bug Plug comes closer than anything else. Simply keep the device running for at least six weeks after your treatment to see if any remaining bugs are caught. For long-term monitoring, you just need to check the glue traps regularly for captured bugs and replace the traps every 3 months for a fresh one so that it stays nice and sticky.