Bed Bugs Aren’t Just for Beds: Why Your Hotel’s Most Popular Fitness Amenities Are Also Susceptible to Bed Bugs

In the hospitality industry pest management is key. One bad review about pests, especially bed bugs, and your reputation and overall success could be at stake.  There are already many common bed bug preventative methods in place for guest rooms. But, one thing many of those who work in the hospitality industry may not know is bed bugs have another favorite amenity at your hotel…and it isn’t the pool, it’s hotel fitness and workout centers.

Bed bugs are known hitchhikers, which is how they find their way into hotel guest rooms. This is also how they get themselves to the gym. Bed bugs are transported by people, often on personal belongings such as luggage & suitcases, purses and gym bags.

A study published by University of Sheffield found that bed bugs are more attracted to dirty laundry and human odor than items that are clean and recently washed. This means sweaty gym clothes in fitness center lockers or baskets of used towels are attractants for bed bugs. Just one bed bug on one gym bag can suddenly become an infestation in these conducive conditions.

When inspecting for bed bugs be sure to check:

1. Lockers

Often gym lockers are dark, making them an ideal hiding places for bed bugs. Make sure to check in the top and bottom corners. Be especially vigilant with lockers that have slat openings.

2. Laundry Baskets

Natural baskets may look nice with your hotel decor, but bed bugs can hide between the woven fibers. If you’re providing these baskets for used towels, empty the baskets multiple times per day.

3. Electrical Outlets

A common hiding spot in guest rooms and hotel gyms are electrical outlets. Check for bed bugs behind the plates on the wall, electrical connections on the exercise equipment themselves, and in surge protectors.

4. Floor Padding

If your hotel’s fitness center uses flex rolls or interlocking mats, check the edges where the mats meet each other and the walls. Often these mats are dark colors so visual inspections may not always be possible. Consider investing in additional detection methods such as canine detection for these types of floors.

5. Shared Fitness Equipment

Bike seats, yoga mats, rowing machines are not a bed bug’s favorite spot but if people sit on these items, they’re at risk for bed bugs.

6. Sitting Areas

Couches, benches or other common areas where people might sit or put gym bags can make a great hiding place for bed bugs.

Hotel maintenance staff must be vigilant in inspecting fitness centers. Detection is critical to break the bed bug life cycle. Here’s what your hotel housekeeping staff should look out for:

  • Adult bed bugs are brown in color and have small, flat, oval-shaped bodies. They resemble small apple seeds.
  • Full-grown bed bugs measure between 4 to 5 mm.
  • Although it sometimes appears that they have wings, they are in fact wingless.
  • You can see adult bed bugs with the naked eye, however newly hatched nymphs are approximately the size of the head of a pin.

You may think that just because you see a few pests resemble bed bugs you do not have a large infestation. Adult female bed bug can produce from 200-500 healthy eggs during her lifetime and may lay from 2-5 eggs each day, so even if you only see a few at first, the likelihood of an infestation of bed bugs is extremely high. The good news is that you do not have to deal with this problem on your own.

Western works with hotels in to help them identify problems before they escalate and come to the attention of guests. We protect your hotel through proactive detection, with the help from Western’s canine bed bug detection service, targeted treatment, and large-scale remediation if needed.

Your hotel’s fitness center and gym equipment can be a great selling point for travelers, just don’t let it be a hot spot for bed bugs.