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Bed Bugs in Distribution Centers and E-commerce Returns

You may not think bed bugs are a big concern for warehouses and distribution centers, but as the logistics industry deals with an increase in e-commerce returns, the threat of a bed bugs also increases. Bed bugs add an additional layer of risk to an already complicated reverse logistics process, as you have little control over the state of the product return when it arrives back in your facility.

Bed bugs can easily be transported from one place to another as they are known hitchhikers. This means they can originate from just about anywhere and make themselves at home in a multitude of environments. If a package is returned from a household with bed bugs, there is a high chance some of the bugs found their way into the open package before it was sealed back up. Bed bugs can survive for relatively long periods of time, so are most likely still alive when the package arrives in your facility.

Establishing a formal inbound logistics program can help with bed bug prevention. Consider the following steps:

  • A verification process for inspections of returns. Multiple checkpoints may be in order.
  • Creating a quarantine area for infested items. This area should be sealed and isolated from other products in the supply chain.
  • The addition of routine bed bug inspection from a professional pest management provider.

It’s imperative to train your staff on a comprehensive inspection process for e-commerce returns. When inspecting for bed bugs, take extra time inspecting the following items:

  • Clothing
  • Shoes
  • Electronics
  • Books
  • Throw pillows and decorative blankets
  • Beds and bedding

Bed bugs are brown in color, but can turn red after feeding, and have small, flat, oval-shaped bodies. Adults can measure between 4 to 5 mm and move relatively slow. Full grown bed bugs often resemble and apple seed while bed bug nymphs are the size of the head of a pin and are white or tan until they feed. Returned products can have either a full grown bed bug or eggs, so knowing what to look for on returned products is critical.

Western Pest Services offers a full bed bug program that includes proactive detection, targeted treatment and large-scale remediation.  A key part of our bed bug proactive detection strategy is Western canine bed bug detection service. Our dogs and handlers are 95 to 98 percent effective in detecting bed bugs at the time of inspection. If you discover you have a bed bug infestation and need help eliminating the problem, we offer targeted treatment to isolate the issue and help prevent an infestation.

Bed bugs know how to hide, hitchhike, and make themselves at home wherever they go. They can travel just about anywhere due to their long survival span and ability to burrow and hide in products. Do not let your distribution center become a hotspot for bed bug travel. You cannot control what type of environments your returns are coming from, but you can control the methods you put into place to protect yourself, your products and your reputation.

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