5 questions with Sandy Honess


December 16, 2019



We catch up with Sandy Honess, who co-owns Ladybug Pest Management with her husband, Frank. In the past 10 years, the Delmar, Del.-based company’s bed bug services have increased to 70 percent of its yearly receivables, and its Canine Scent Detection services for bed bugs have skyrocketed.

1. You do a lot of bed bug work in rural areas. Are there differences in treating in rural accounts vs. urban and suburban accounts?

One case in particular stands out: A young couple had fallen on hard times and were living in a small roadside motel. Many of the motel rooms had become infested with bed bugs.

We were shocked to learn that the motel owner would remove infested mattresses from the rooms, place them in the motel’s parking lot, douse them in kerosene, and let the hot sun dry them out.

We immediately advised him that this was illegal. He did not speak English very well and kept referring to any type of pesticide he purchased at a local store as “medicine.” We notified the proper agencies regarding this practice by the motel owner.



Learning of this archaic and dangerous protocol was alarming enough. However, the young couple’s baby was in a waist-high body cast due to a recent surgical procedure. Yet her crib had been infested with bed bugs. Fecal spotting was everywhere. Her car seat/carrier also was severely marked with bed bug fecal spots.

We helped this family with control efforts and financial assistance. They were planning to obtain better living arrangements, but we cautioned them regarding cross-contamination — taking bed bugs from the motel room to their new residence.

2. Thankfully, that motel was the exception, not the rule. How have your commercial accounts in the lodging industry changed over the years in reaction to the threat of bed bugs?

Many are changing the furnishings and decor. Gone are the headboards. Gone is the carpet, and in its place is hardwood or tile floors. Gone are the wicker furnishings. Less is more in many hotel room setups, and for that matter, in our homes.

3. Your team prefers to take a proactive approach to bed bugs whenever possible. What is the “Ladybug Pest Management Bed Bug Action Plan” you offer customers?

We put written protocols in place for our commercial accounts, including hospitality and lodging facilities, apartment complexes, camps, group homes, and nursing and retirement homes and communities. We conduct training sessions throughout the year on how to inspect for bed bugs. We want customers to be able to answer confidently if a guest asks whether a bed bug action plan is in place. Or if a guest reports bed bugs, customers immediately know what to do.

We also work with property management companies, landlords and owners of single-family home rentals and multi-unit apartments. Once a tenant moves out, before a new tenant moves in, we inspect for bed bugs with our canines. We then provide the customer with an “alert-free” Certificate of Inspection. Many owners of long-term rentals are adding bed bug addendums and changing their lease language regarding how bed bug findings are handled and who is responsible for treatment.

PHOTO: Sandy Honess

Sandy and Frank Honess pose with Dolly and Dixie, two of their bed bug-detecting canines. PHOTO: SANDY HONESS

4. Do you extend the proactive approach to your residential customers?

We educate our residential customers to take the necessary steps to avoid introducing bed bugs into their homes. We want them to know what to do upon entering a hotel, resort, camp or any lodging facility, and then know what to do when returning home. We also hand out a pocket-sized card titled, “What travelers need to know about bed bugs,” and it’s been a great resource.

5. What advice would you give pest management professionals looking to step up their bed bug management services?

We believe this pest is here to stay for a while. We all need to be “smarter than the average bed bug” and educate ourselves and our customers. We need customers to buy in and take action to protect themselves. Then, it’s the professional’s job to protect as much as possible, and take care of any problems that arise swiftly and efficiently.

Read moreBed bug control calls for compassion


About the Author

Heather Gooch

Heather Gooch is the editor-in-chief for PMP magazine. She can be reached at hgooch@northcoastmedia.net or 330-321-9754.

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