Insect Bites a real FM bugbear!

Do not despair, the issue you have may have nothing to do with biting insects or bugs on site:

How to Evaluate Mystery Bugs

Anyone who has worked for a long time in facilities has faced customers who insisted that pests were biting when no pests could be found. Such a customer usually demands treatment. The treatment doesn’t work or works only briefly. And the customer demands another treatment…and then another, until you feel frustrated and guilty, since you suspect you shouldn’t have treated in the first place and costs start to get out of hand.
What should you do if your customer complains of biting pests, and on investigation you cannot find any?
Do not apply an insecticide, and do not fake an insecticide application with plain water. A solution of water and fabric softener could help resolve the issue and can be administered in an on the spot basis by your evening cleaners.

There are five possibilities for mystery bugs:

1. The most likely cause is your customer is being bitten somewhere else.

Year on year the conditions for biting insects and the breeding of biting insects improves with some of the wettest summers on record.
The bites of certain pests may not be noticed until hours or even days after they occur and there is absolutely nothing that you can do about this.
Your customer may be being bitten by chiggers or mosquitoes outdoors, perhaps on the weekend or whilst outside smoking and not noticing the bites until later, it is very unlikely that the bites are caused by fleas this is always the first option of those that know little of insect bites or the feeding habits of these creatures. Fleas tend to bite more than once so there would be multiple bites in the same area, mosquitos tend to bite once, if customers do have a bite it is most likely to have been received off site a number of hours previous and the anaesthetic the insect injects has worn off. Another reason for the bite most likely being received off site is that office carpets are regularly cleaned and vacuumed, are nylon in content and have very tight short fibres, this type of carpet does not tend to sustain or hide wildlife.

2. The “bites” are caused by environmental conditions.

Mysterious bites from invisible bugs are not uncommon in rooms with lots of paper, electrical equipment, fibres, and static. Static electricity can cause particles of carpet fibres, paper splinters, or fiberglass fibres to jump onto arms and legs. The particles feel like little “pinpricks” and cause irritations that feel and look just like bug bites.

Worried workers across the Country have been contacting their facilities providers/office managers to report infestations of invisible insects in their offices. Throughout the country, Facilities/Office Managers have been calling in pest control experts to rid their workplaces of the bugs, which cause itchy ‘bites’ and seem to have a particular liking for computer rooms and offices that contain a high volume of paper and electrical equipment. But whilst insecticide sprays work for a short time, the strange bites soon return.

These occurrences are more likely to be a phenomenon known as Cable Bugs – these are not a new super-breed of insect – they’re not even insects at all. In fact, the ‘bites’ are caused by static electricity, which can easily build up in an office environment due to the large amount of electrical equipment, paper and synthetic carpets.

When someone walks around their office, a static charge can build up in their body. As they return to their metal-framed desk or filing cabinet, this is discharged into the metal, giving them a tiny electric shock, which feels like an insect bite and leaves an itchy mark on the skin. Minute flecks of paper and card can also become charged and embed themselves in the skin, causing the same biting sensation and skin marks.

Pest control experts, explain some of the ways to identify static electricity problems and how to treat them:

‘We’re getting increasing numbers of reports about insect infestations that turn out to be static electricity. If the ‘bites’ don’t have puncture marks and nobody has seen any insects, your office is likely to be suffering from something called Cable Bugs.

‘Insecticide sprays can seem to work at first, because they dampen the area, reducing static, but long term treatments include using anti-static solutions, ensuring good ventilation and encouraging staff to wear non-rubber shoes tend to be far more effective.

3. Your customer has a skin condition or a medical condition causing skin problems.

Certain skin disorders can feel just like insect or mite bites. Allergies can result in dermatitis and hives. Ringworm, hookworm, athlete’s foot, staph infection, and pinworm may cause itching and rashes identical to those from bug bites. A dermatologist can determine if your customer has any of these conditions. Medical conditions that also cause similar sensations include vitamin or other deficiencies in diet, diabetes, cerebrovascular disease, and hypothyroidism. Also, certain prescribed or illicit drugs, especially amphetamines and cocaine, can be the problem.

The most likely causes of bites noticed by staff are mentioned in point 1 and 2 whilst 1 requires only investigation, and if insects found a chemical treatment can be administered, 2 can easily be treated with a spot spray of fabric softener solution.
Point 3 would be managed on an as and when basis and would be the responsibility of the individuals employer.

The reasonable conclusion:

If you have been bitten by an insect it is most likely to be an insect that has bitten you off site and you have not been bitten by fleas on site (insect traps will confirm this, be aware using traps with lamps under desks carries a risk, these generate heat and if someone places a coat over it, the smell of burning could cause an evacuation, a site I run recently experienced this).

It could be the result of static and this can easily be spot treated.

Hope this helps!

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