COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - We're accustomed to bedbugs showing up in apartments and motels, but not in a popular shopping center.
A Walmart spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday that bedbugs were found in an employee lounge last weekend, at a store near the intersection of Powers and Palmer Park boulevards in Colorado Springs.
The blood-sucking pests, which have become more common nationally in recent years, were concentrated on a piece of furniture in the lounge, said spokeswoman Kayla Whaling.
Whaling said the store called an exterminator to treat infested areas around the lounge, and to check public areas in the store where the bedbugs were likely to spread. The concern was that the steady stream of around-the-clock customers would help the pests spread.
However, Whaling said follow-up tests showed no trace of bedbugs, and the pests apparently did not spread beyond the lounge.
James Whidden, owner of Mug-A-Bug Pest Control in Colorado Springs, said finding bedbugs in a retail establishment is unusual.
"They're mainly going to set up where they can get a blood meal," he said. "That's normally where you have people sitting or sleeping for long periods of time."
Whidden said the bedbugs probably were treated with pesticides instead of heat extermination because the store's large space makes extended heating above 110 degrees difficult.
"I don't think you'd have a high concern from a consumer point, to where they're going to spread rapidly throughout the store, and just get into anything and everything.," he said. " I think a treatment on the employee area right away would suffice. To do a knee-jerk reaction and treat the entire store, I don't think that would probably be necessary."
Some customers expressed mixed emotions about the situation.
"I wouldn't go in the store," said Sandra Edmonds. "I would be pretty upset about it. Where did (bedbugs) come from? If they're going to be in the store, they came from somebody."
I've been a long-time customer over here," said Jesse Francisco. "I'd probably give them the benefit of the doubt to get cleaned up."
According to the National Pest Management Association, bedbugs travel on clothing, personal items and merchandise. They can be controlled by detection devices and visual inspection by pest control professionals. Changing rooms, employee lockers and lounges and rental departments are among the high-risk areas for the pests.