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DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT A BED BUG LOOKS LIKE?

By Chris Williams on June 30, 2017.

If you faced a lineup of insects, could you pick out the bed bug? How about if you faced a lineup of 5 wingless arthropods, all about 1/8 inch  long, could you then pick out the bed bug? When business and leisure travelers were challenged with several enlarged silhouettes of various pests (ant, termite, head louse, tick, and bed bug), 29% of the business travelers and 42% of leisure travelers admitted that they did not know which one was the bed bug.

Researchers at the University of Kentucky surveyed more than 2,000 business and leisure travelers from all states to find out what they know about bed bugs, including whether they could actually identify a bed bug if found in their hotel room.

MISIDENTIFICATION OF BED BUGS CARRIES CONSEQUENCES

Lead researcher Jerrod Penn says that the inability of travelers to recognize a bed bug has important ramifications for hotels, as a guest’s claim of bed bugs could be proven to be wrong, but not before damage had been done to a hotel’s reputation. On the reverse side of this, a traveler who cannot identify a bed bug is more likely to inadvertently carry bed bugs home from a trip. The inability of the average person to correctly identify a bed bug could also be an issue when bed bug claims are made in apartments, schools, offices, and other public spaces.

About half of the travelers said that they knew about bed bugs but had no personal experience with them. As might be expected, respondents who reported prior experience with bed bugs were more likely to correctly identify the bed bug silhouette, as were those who “often worried” (14%) about bed bugs when traveling. While 80% of the surveyed travelers check the cleanliness of hotel bathrooms and 62% check for clean sheets and towels, only 34% report inspecting their room for signs of bed bugs.

CHECK THE INTERNET FOR BED BUG PHOTOS

If you’re not sure that you would recognize a bed bug, don’t feel too badly. Fifteen years ago, most entomology graduate students had never even seen a bed bug. There is no shortage of bed bug photos on the Internet. You can also type “bed bug” into the Search bar at the top of our Blog home page, for other photos. Take a look, especially if you will be traveling this summer!

For more bed bug info for travelers, including how to do a bed bug check of your hotel room, see Don’t Let Bed Bug Worries Cancel Your Vacation.

[Source: “Bed Bugs and Hotels, Traveler Insights and Implications for the Industry.” Jerrod M. Penn, Hannah J. Penn, Michael F. Potter, and Wuyang Hu. American Entomologist, Vol. 63, No. 2.]

Photo Credit: Piotr Naskrecki – , Public Domain By Content Providers(s): CDC/ Harvard University, Dr. Gary Alpert; Dr. Harold Harlan; Richard Pollack. 

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