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Bed bug party of the year crawling toward Las Vegas

Ever wanted to enjoy a fresh, cold draft beer while talking about bed bug breeding habits? How about sipping a strong martini as you discuss the ins and outs of eradication?

Now’s your chance.

On Sept. 6 and 7, Red Rock Resort’s conference area will be home to the bed bug party of the year as the property hosts the third annual Bed Bug University: North American Summit 2012, produced by Bed Bug Central. Event organizers are shooting for an attendance between 400-500, and they’re looking for you, hospitality industry.

Jeffrey White, technical director of Bed Bug Central, said the summit’s attendance usually is 70 percent pest control professionals and 30 percent affected industries – hospitality, military housing or property management.

The event’s Bed Bug University offers a chance to dive in deep, just like the bugs do. The “intensive” two-day course covers bed bug biology and behavior (like what time they’re most likely to dine on your skin) and treatment protocols. Attendees also can peruse Bed Bug Central’s expo floor, which is expected to showcase more than 75 of the finest bed bug product manufacturers.

And the hits don’t stop there.

After all that, there’s a beer tasting reception where you can wet your whistle while mulling over the latest insect innovations. Oh, and don’t forget the Night Out With the (bed bug) Experts at Red Rock Resort.

Sounds like a party.

“We’re trying to give the attendees an opportunity to talk and meet with some of the experts, get answers to questions about specific situations,” White said.

OK, so you’ve gotten the proverbial insect juices flowing, but just how prevalent are these secretive little insects?

Well, in Mumbai, people get paid to lay on the ground and act as human feeders, there’s so many. In the United States, most businesses affected don’t have to pay their feeders. You pay them.

Yeah, that’s right. You might think you haven’t been affected by bed bugs, but Christian Hardigree, a conference speaker and bed bug expert, says many people don’t even know they’ve been bed bug food.

Hardigree is an attorney who’s represented hotels and nightclubs and formerly taught hospitality law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. After she authored the paper, “The Ick Factor,” about gross things such as condoms, syringes and bed bugs that plague hospitality professionals, she was crowned as one of the world’s royals when it comes to all aspects of bed bugs.

First off, they’re not limited to hotels. But, if you’re wondering which local places have them, search by hotel name on bedbugregistry.com. The Red Rock Resort is clean, which sets it apart from others we won’t name here.

Other public places also have reportedly housed the little suckers, including a hospital in Austin, Texas; retail stores in New York City; and an airplane in Des Moines, Iowa.

“They have nothing to do with cleanliness. They’re very apt at being dispersed,” Hardigree warned.

Bed bug eggs are very small and sticky, and Hardigree said their eggs are about the size of glitter, another substance that will stick to humans like glue. Think about how glitter sticks to you, pretty much everywhere. Now imagine all that glitter being bed bug eggs.

“There’s a lot of people who live with bed bugs because they can’t get rid of them,” Hardigree said.

In fact, she said that there are more bed bugs in multifamily homes than in hotels nationwide, probably because landlords can’t get into private residences to check for them.

Bed bugs, while embarrassing and potentially damaging to a hotel brand, are also expensive.

Cost to eradicate the bugs from a hotel room can be as high as $1,000 per unit. If a hotelier cleans that room, and those to either side and above and below, it can be a $5,000 hit to a property.

White, who serves as an expert witness in legal cases involving bed bugs, said people in the industry need to be proactive and learn to identify threats early on.

Hardigree added: “You can’t prevent them. There’s no one thing you can do, absent living in a bubble.”

But, she noted that professional extermination is always the best choice. If a family or business can’t afford that, the local health department and the Environmental Protection Agency offer information about prevention and eradication.

Hardigree, though, wants people to be realistic about bed bugs.

“Bed bugs tend to create this panic persona. At the end of the day, you don’t die from bed bugs,” she said.

Although, she did say that people who have experienced them may come away with “substantial issues,” such as feeling the need to vacuum six times a day.

“I’m not trying to diminish those persons’ claims,” Hardigree said.

Since diving into the bed bug realm, Hardigee’s own preferences have changed.

“My favorite thing in the world used to be blackout curtains and room service in a hotel,” Hardigree shared.

Not anymore.

Now, who’s expecting to go to sleep tonight?

Contact reporter Laura Carroll at lcarroll@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4588.

 

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