No vacancy for pests in hotels

Breakfast areas and swimming pools are popular spots for both guests and pests
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
By Alice Sinia Ph.D.

For many travellers, hotels are a home away from home and a place to relax. But they aren’t the only ones looking for a place to hang their hat. Pests are similarly attracted to hotels for the food, water and shelter that their lodging, amenities and dining areas provide.

While many pests may find their way inside a hotel, some are more common than others. Hotel managers and cleaning staff should play close attention to particular areas that pests enjoy. Here are four hot spots and a list of cleaning tips to prevent infestation.

Breakfast Areas and Hotel Bar

A breakfast bar is a great add-on for guests on the go, but it is also a one-stop shop for pests searching for food. Similarly, nocturnal guests and pests alike will take advantage of the hotel bar for a late-night snack. To keep these guest-only areas:

  • Clean food and drink spills immediately and cover food that may be left out for an extended period.
  • Remove all food items from the bar at the end of the night, including fruit slices, olives and other garnishes.
  • Regularly remove trash from the dining area to prevent lingering odours.
  • Vacuum after breakfast and bar hours to remove debris from the floor and clean and sanitize tables.
  • Do not store empty beverage bottles or cans in bar areas for over 48 hours, as this provides breeding ground for fruit flies.
  • Clean beverage fountain taps and drains on a daily basis to prevent fruit flies, drain flies and phorid flies from breeding.

Swimming Pools

A guest favourite, swimming pools are a popular amenity in the warmer months. However, they can also contribute to increased pest activity on your property. To keep the pool clear of pests and your guests worry free:

  • Clear standing water on the deck with a squeegee or broom to eliminate pest breeding grounds.
  • Cover and empty trash cans regularly and rinse them to prevent food debris from building up. Eliminate rainwater or residual moisture that may collect in the can.
  • Do not plant bright flowered or blooming plants near outdoor pools, as this will attract wasps, bees and other pests.

Fitness Centres

An essential for some guests, the fitness area also produces odours and moisture that entices pests. To prevent guests from seeing pests and running out the door:

  • Mop up liquid that has gathered under machines and equipment.
  • Ensure all cracks and crevices around the exterior are sealed.
  • Regularly remove towels and send them to the laundry room for cleaning.
  • Install an odour eliminating system—sure to please guests as well.
  • Provide proper aeration, ventilation and air circulation in the room, as it helps discourage pests.

Common Pests in Hotels

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are known for their hiding and hitchhiking skills, capable of being introduced at any time. They can come in on guest luggage, so it’s important to have an ongoing plan for monitoring and treating this common hotel pest. Adult bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed. They are visible to the eye, but their cryptic behaviour makes it hard to spot them. Take these steps to stay ahead of the problem:

  • Institute regular weekly inspections during housekeeping and detailed monthly inspections by a trained professional.
  • Check for signs of bed bugs on mattress tags and seams, between or underneath furniture cushions, behind picture frames, behind headboards and in the cracks of baseboards and electrical outlets.
  • Use passive bed bug monitors, strategically placed away from guests’ view.


Cockroaches are highly adaptable. They can fit through cracks as small as 1/16 of an inch, and once inside, they will eat anything from glue and leather to toothpaste and pantry items. Cockroaches are nocturnal pests, so if you see one during the day, it could have been forced out by overcrowding, a sign of a severe infestation. In addition to upsetting your guests, cockroaches can contaminate food and even trigger asthma reactions in some people.


Flies are the filthiest pests. Because they can quickly move from surface to surface, flies readily spread disease as they move from garbage to exposed food, utensils and food preparation areas. Sanitation is key to controlling this pest, but it’s important to identify the type of fly you are dealing with, as different species will require different control strategies.

Whether a hotel has an existing pest problem or not, working with a pest management professional is key to keeping pests away from the property. By developing an Integrated Pest Management strategy that focuses on prevention techniques like sanitation, structural maintenance and exclusion, hotels can both treat and prevent pests. With the right strategy in place, hotels can put out the “no vacancy” sign to pests and help ensure guests have a pleasant stay.


Alice Sinia, Ph.D. is Quality Assurance Manager – Regulatory/Lab Services for Orkin Canada focusing on government regulations pertaining to the pest control industry. With more than 15 years of experience, she manages the Quality Assurance Laboratory for Orkin Canada and performs analytical entomology as well as provides technical support in pest/insect identification to branch offices and clients. For more information, email Alice Sinia at or visit

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