The ERMS bed bug monitoring and testing program from Ensystex allows hotels and guesthouses to detect the presence of bed bugs and act swiftly to avoid reputational damage.

The majority of travellers today consider online reviews when booking their hotel accommodation. In one survey of global respondents, TripAdvisor found that 80% of travellers read at least 6-12 online reviews before selecting a hotel. Other studies have shown that online customer reviews are the most important factor in hotel booking decisions.

The impact of bed bug infestations on customers’ hotel choice is significant. Recent research conducted by the University of Kentucky shows that even though the majority of travellers have little understanding or first-hand experience of bed bugs, when compared to other hotel room issues – such as smells or lack of cleanliness – evidence of bed bugs is far more likely to cause guests to switch hotels and seek compensation.

Even a single report of bed bugs can cause travellers to choose another hotel, or another chain, even if the incident occurred long ago. The widespread reliance on social media and online review platforms makes the hotel industry particularly vulnerable, as a single bad review can impact future bookings.

ERMS bed bug monitor
ERMS bed bug monitor

Regional Director for Ensystex, Steve Broadbent, said, “The Ensystex Environmental Room Monitoring System (ERMS) program is an essential consideration for hotels, and others in the hospitality sector, enabling them to develop a reputation management plan and protect against bed bugs. Hotels need to work with their professional pest managers to recognise and report bed bugs in the earliest possible stages, when infestations are more manageable. This is what ERMS is all about.

ERMS has been used to protect more than 30,000 hotel rooms in London and New York, two of the world’s cities most at risk from bed bug infestation. “The heart of the ERMS program is the Ensystex Passive Bed Bug Monitor. To a bed bug, this monitor provides the ideal living quarters,” explained Mr Broadbent. “It is designed so that bed bugs defecate on the white ‘skirt’ around the monitor when they enter. The faecal spots are easily visible on this white background, allowing them to be checked on a weekly basis by the hotel’s housekeeping team when they make the beds. If they notice anything of concern, they immediately call in their pest manager.

“As part of an integrated pest management approach, this allows for the early treatment of an infestation, before it gets out of hand. For hotels and similar establishments, working in partnership with their pest manager, this means they can better ensure their guests are not bitten, and that they have provided due diligence in their protection.

On-the-spot testing

The ERMS program features two additions: Cimethor Bed Bug Blue – part of the early detection system – and Bithor Dual Action Insecticide, which is applied if the presence of beg bugs has been confirmed.

Cimethor test card, cotton swabs and development fluid
Cimethor test card, cotton swabs and development fluid

“Cimethor Bed Bug Blue is used to test for the presence of blood in faecal matter,” explained Mr Broadbent. “It will detect faecal spots up to two years old. It easily distinguishes bed bug spotting from other marks, providing professional pest managers with confidence in their bed bug diagnosis.”

Cimethor contains a test card with nine test windows and a bottle of development fluid. A couple of drops of the fluid are added to a cotton swab, which is then rubbed over the suspect faecal spot. It is then rubbed on a test window; if the window turns blue, it is a bed bug spot.

If bed bugs are detected, Bithor Dual Action provides a solution for control, including for the commonly encountered pyrethroid-resistant strains. It contains two active ingredients – imidacloprid and bifenthrin – with each active making the other more effective. They also work at different target sites on the insect’s nervous system, making Bithor Dual Action a powerful and versatile product.

“In trials performed at the Institute of Clinical Pathology and Medical Research at Westmead Hospital, NSW, Bithor Dual Action provided 100% control after two hours’ exposure to a highly pyrethroid-resistant strain of the common bed bug,” said Mr Broadbent. “Similarly, in trials against a pyrethroid-resistant strain of the tropical bed bug performed by the Department of Medical Entomology in Thailand, Bithor Dual Action proved 100% effective in all replicates,” he added.

ERMS monitor showing bed bug defecation spots
ERMS monitor showing bed bug defecation spots

Mr Broadbent recommends ERMS as an affordable and effective system that puts pest managers in a position to greatly increase their revenue. “Rather than sitting around waiting for a bed bug problem to arise, there is now a professional solution to ensure bed bugs are properly managed,” he said.

Ensystex plans to add a further range of non-pesticidal solutions to ERMS to future-proof the program against bed bugs developing resistance to insecticides.

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