Hotels face growing bedbug battle

NEWARK, Del. - August 13, 2010

The marks on one man's arms were only the very beginning after a recent hotel stay: "When I woke up, I noticed a couple bites, you know. (I) went and did my thing, came home, lying watching TV and noticed a whole bunch. "

His arms, hands, and torso were all completely covered. The man, who asked not to be identified, spent two nights this week as a guest in the Quality Inn in Newark, Delaware. There, as he slept, scores of bedbugs did what bedbugs do; feeding, in the darkness, on human blood.

Today, alerted to the infestation, Newark Code Enforcement cited the hotel and ordered it to have the problem fixed.

Steve Wilson of Newark Code Enforcement said, "They will need to have the infestation treated within 24 hours."

The hotel's owner declined to grant an interview, but says his Quality Inn is clean; and truth is, that it just may be. Experts say that how well a hotel or motel is maintained is not really an indication of bedbugs.

"They are just as happy in a disheveled house as they are in a clean house," Charles Bartlett, an associate professor of Entymology at the University of Delaware, told Action News. "They can be in a five star hotel."

Bartlett studies bugs for a living. He says the last 15 years have seen a resurgence of bedbugs. One of the biggest reasons is that the pests are portable.

"It being so easy to travel across the globe now, they can move from two very distant points very easily," Bartlett said.

With pesticides used far less than decades ago, and little public awareness about their spread, bedbugs have been slowly creeping back. That means travelers need to be cautious, looking in the nooks and crannies of beds before they go to sleep and before they end up bitten up.

One a helpful website you can check out to see if the hotel where you're planning to stay has had any reported problems: You can also report any problems you may encounter.

The Quality Inn in Newark will be re-inspected next week.

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