The Orkin Files: Swallow Bugs Mistaken for Bed Bugs

How Orkin Helped Identify and Treat One Hotel's Unusual Pest Infestation

Case Studies
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When Orkin received a call from a hotel experiencing guest complaints about bed bugs, Orkin Technical Services Manager Pat Copps expected to find just that – a scenario every hotel dreads, but could experience: a bed bug infestation. What he discovered upon arriving at the scene of the hotel, however, was unanticipated.

The Evidence

As Copps pulled up to the hotel, he observed another type of pest not mentioned by the hotel manager: swallows – one of several bird species known to be a nuisance to humans – nesting on the sixth floor of the hotel. After consulting with the hotel manager, Copps learned that all the “bed bug” complaints came from guests staying on the sixth floor. This was no coincidence. The evidence led Copps to believe that the hotel may not be dealing with bed bugs after all.

The Findings

After completing a thorough inspection, Orkin was able to confirm what they suspected when first arriving on the scene. This hotel did not have bed bugs; rather they had a swallow bug infestation.

Though an unlikely pest, swallow bugs present a challenge to hotels, especially if they are misidentified as bed bugs. These look-alikes can even feed on humans, but their preferred host is the swallow bird. Rather than hitchhike on humans from place to place, swallow bugs live and thrive in bird nests. When swallows leave their nests, swallow bugs often crawl out looking for new hosts, which, in this case, were the hotel guests.

Drawing a Conclusion

To help resolve the situation, Orkin treated the guest rooms using techniques similar to those used for a bed bug infestation. To help control the infestation at its source on the exterior of the building, they treated the nesting area after the birds were gone and the nests removed, and utilized bird control techniques to discourage the swallows from returning.


Correctly identifying pests is imperative. If this infestation had been treated as just a bed bug infestation, the origin of the problem – the swallows – would not have been addressed and the issue could have gone unresolved. To learn more about how Orkin can use its experience and scientific knowledge to solve your property’s pest problems, visit or call 1-800-ORKIN NOW.