Bedbugs & Business 2012: Surveillance and Staff Preparation Are Key
Terminix Reports Bedbug Activity Is 70 percent Commercial vs. 30 percent Residential
Terminix, the world’s largest pest control provider and a subsidiary of The ServiceMaster Company, has seen an increase in the prevalence of bedbugs in most states since releasing its first Most Bedbug-Infested Cities ranking in 2010. Just announced, Philadelphia won the dubious title of most bedbug-infested U.S. city this year.
With the growth in bedbug populations across the U.S., businesses continue to represent 70 percent of Terminix’s bedbug customers versus 30 percent for residential customers.
“ In areas with high levels of active bed bugs, it is not uncommon to see a 300 percent increase in reported incidences over levels reported just a few years ago,” says Paul Curtis, director of service quality for Terminix. “And in areas where infestation is newly discovered, increases can be as high as 1500 percent over the previous year.”
While some locations are more susceptible to infestation than others, bedbugs are transferred by people: the more people traffic a location has, the more it is at risk.
For office buildings, the high volumes of traffic create a special challenge, as do personal items brought from home. Many areas can harbor bedbugs including cubicles, employee lockers, break rooms and electronic equipment.
“Discovery of suspected infestations or bedbug activity often comes via complaints from visitors or employees,” adds Curtis. “It’s important for facility managers to develop an action plan in advance with their staff.”
Suggestions for Developing the Right Action Plan:
? Train and educate all staff members on how to look for signs of infestation and what to do if bedbug activity is found.
? Conduct regular inspections of vulnerable areas, and train employees to self-check, since it can be difficult to inspect personal items, the most likely source of infestation. In addition to a bed bug, you may see eggs, fecal spots or cast skins as sign of infestation.
? Train staff to handle visitor and employee concerns related to bedbugs sympathetically, professionally and according to company policy. Legally, employees’ actions and words could be imputed to their employer.
? It’s most critical to be quick and responsive – if you suspect bedbugs, contact an expert immediately to schedule an inspection.
? Preserve samples of the suspected evidence to show to the expert during inspection.
“Bedbugs continue to plague many U.S. cities and towns and they are able to hitchhike on any item and be carried into any home or building,” said Stoy Hedges, an entomologist with Terminix. “While major metropolitan areas are most at risk, it is important to note that bedbugs have been spotted in cities and towns across the country.”
Hedges cautions that bedbug infestations are not something that schools should attempt handle on their own. A recent report in the Journal of Economic Entomology reported that over-the-counter foggers have been proven ineffective and are not recommended for use.
Terminix uses a process called RapidFreeze in which a patented nozzle transforms liquid carbon dioxide into a dry ice “snow” that effectively freezes and kills bedbugs in fewer than 60 seconds. The artic-cold air blast (-80°C) penetrates cracks and crevices. It can be used just about anywhere and does not damage electrical components.
Terminix, a subsidiary of the ServiceMaster Company, is the world’s largest pest control provider. Headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., Terminix services approximately 3 million customers in 47 states and 14 countries. Terminix provides pest control services and protection against termites, rodents and other pests threatening human health and/or safety. To learn more about Terminix, visit www.Terminix.com
With a global network of more than 6,900 company-owned, franchise and licensed locations, Memphis-based ServiceMaster is one of the world’s largest residential and commercial service networks. The company’s high-profile brands are TruGreen, Terminix, American Home Shield, ServiceMaster Clean, Merry Maids, Furniture Medic and AmeriSpec. Through approximately 21,000 corporate associates and a franchise network that independently employs over 31,000 additional people, the ServiceMaster family of brands serves more than 8.2 million customers every year. Our brands hold market-leading positions in residential and commercial lawn, tree and shrub care, termite and pest control, home warranties, furniture repair, home inspections, residential and commercial cleaning and disaster restoration. Go to www.servicemaster.com for more information about ServiceMaster or follow us at twitter.com/ServiceMaster or facebook.com/TheServiceMasterCo.