The words alone might make you itch: Bed bugs.
From time to time in Moab, reports crop up the nasty pests. That’s probably not unusual for a tourist town. But Orion Rogers, environmental health director of the Southeast Utah Health Department, said that his office receives only around ten complaints a year about hotel rooms with bed bugs.
“Pretty much all hotels are going to have bed bugs at some point,” said Rogers. “It’s not typically a hotel issue, it’s that bed bugs travel with people. So bed bugs will travel in people’s luggage [or] on them ... they’ll infect a room and they can then spread out from there.”
The 2011 Bed Bugs in America survey, conducted by the National Pest Management Association, found that Americans are fairly concerned about bed bugs, and that 80 percent are most concerned about encountering bed bugs in hotels. Nearly half of respondents incorrectly believed that bed bugs can transmit diseases.
However, Rogers verified that bed bugs do not transmit sicknesses. “Bed bugs are considered a nuisance pest … they’re just highly annoying,” Rogers said.
To take care of bed bugs, hotels or pest control specialists must heat affected rooms up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, Rogers said. That kills the bed bugs without damaging the electronics in the room.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a case where I’ve gotten a report of a bed bug situation where I have gotten to the hotel and they haven’t already either had a pest control company in or taken care of it themselves,” Rogers said.
It is thought that bed bugs evolved from bat mites and adapted to feeding on humans. Though bed bugs can survive off of any type of blood, they need human blood to reproduce, Rogers said.
Rogers has not received any reports of bed bugs in an Airbnb or VRBO-type overnight rentals within his district. Those, he said, would be regulated according to housing regulations that have to do with pests. “We’d just ask the owner, can we come in and check it out. If there’s an issue [we would] just advise how to remediate the situation. I’ve never had a complaint that’s taken me into an overnight rental,” Rogers said.
A more dangerous pest this summer, Rogers said, will be mosquitos. July is usually West Nile Awareness Month, and while the mosquito that carries Zika has fortunately not been seen in the Moab area, Rogers advised residents and visitors to use insect repellent throughout the summer months, otherwise you’ll be itching over them, too.