Tempe woman left covered in bites after stay at Tempe motel

Posted at 7:30 PM, Dec 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-31 10:30:06-05

A Tempe woman was left covered in bites after a recent motel stay.

Jennifer LaPlant was staying at a Tempe motel with her husband and woke up with stinging bites.

"They're painful. They burn, itch so bad, the itching doesn't go away" said LaPlant.

She lifted up the mattress in the room where they were staying and said she saw little black marks under the mattress, and along the sides of the bed. The markings appeared to be bedbug feces. LaPlant said the motel managers gave them another room while they fumigated their previous one, but that did not take care of the problem.

"I was terrified. I would wake up and feel the bite. It would wake me up, it hurt so bad," said LaPlant.

Sterling Miller, owner of Arizona Heat Pest Services said hotels are frequently a hot spot for bedbug activity.

"Whether it's a one-star hotel or a five-star hotel, it doesn't matter," said Miller.

He explained the blood-sucking hitchhikers travel in people's luggage, their clothes, and even through electric outlets in the walls, making high-traffic areas such as hotels especially susceptible. 

Since 2012, Miller said there had been a big influx in bedbug calls throughout Arizona. The resistant creatures were not responding to the types of pesticide used in the past, so new methods such as extreme heating were developed to get rid of the pests.

"You could spray your entire house with commercial-grade pesticide and they will persist for 30 days, 60 days, 6 months," said Miller.

One way to tell if your hotel mattress is infested is to simply mess up the nicely made up bed as soon as you checked into your room.

"I know you don't want to mess up that nicely made bed, but lift the sheets and bedskirts.  Take a look at the seams and where the stitching is," said Miller.

A bad infestation would almost always be visible instantly.

Miller said most hotels treat bedbugs in-house or through private contracts with pest control companies.

A consumer site allows customers to write up hotels where they may have encountered bedbugs. allows you to type in the name of the city and see if anyone has complained about bedbugs in hotels in the area.

Calls for comment by ABC15 to the motel where LaPlant and her husband encountered the bugs were not immediately returned Friday.

The couple plans to file a complaint with the Maricopa County Environmental Services Division.

A spokesman says the division's investigation process starts with contacting the business and asking for proof of fumigation.

If you have a business you would like to lodge a bedbug complaint about, the number to call is (602) 506-6616.