Coronavirus Could Eradicate This Expensive Household Problem

Experts say COVID-19 may significantly reduce the risk of bringing these pests home with you.

Coronavirus has indelibly changed the way people live, from how we run errands to how—and where—we work. And while many of those changes have been less than well-received, one silver lining is that coronavirus may actually be the thing that eradicates a common household problem for good: bed bugs.

Bed bugs are everywhere, from private homes to retail stores to five-star hotels. According to the National Pest Management Association's "Bugs Without Borders" report, 97 percent of pest specialists treated a case of bed bugs in the past year, with summer typically being the busiest season. Unfortunately, getting rid of them isn't an inexpensive proposition—according to HomeAdvisor, it can cost as much as $5,000 to have an entire home treated for bed bugs. However, with indoor gatherings off-limits in many states and many people avoiding hotels due to coronavirus, the risk of inadvertently picking up bed bugs and bringing them home has dropped dramatically.

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According to board-certified entomologist Natasha Wright of Braman Termite & Pest Elimination, with many hotel rooms and public spaces going unoccupied for months at a time, this presents a unique opportunity for businesses to thoroughly tackle their existing bed bug issues—including using treatments that can't be applied safely when hosting guests.

"Professional treatment is required to effectively eradicate these pests, and can consist of insecticide applications, heat remediation, or a combination of both, based on the severity and extent of the infestation," Wright explains. "Since this takes the rooms being treated out of service for a period of time, low occupancy during the pandemic makes this a good time to get it done."

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COVID-19 has also provided business the opportunity to make necessary repairs to spaces that will make it harder for bed bugs to go undetected.

"While rooms are empty for long periods, maintenance crews can get in and fix cracks and crevices or seal up openings that could possibly be used by bed bugs as hiding spots or harborage points," says Chad Gore, an entomologist and Market Technical Director for Western Exterminator.

While Gore notes that bed bugs can live up to a year without feeding, he says that the lack of human blood available to them at the moment may expose a critical weakness.

"Lack of access to a food source will stress the population, which generally makes them more susceptible when exposed to insecticides," he explains. And if you're wondering how your travel plans may look different after the pandemic, check out these 8 Things You May Never See in Hotel Rooms Ever Again.

Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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