The movie theater company's chief operating officer didn't explicitly confirm bed bugs at The Grand Theatre on Johnston Street, but he didn't deny them either.
An executive with Southern Theatres LLC, the company that owns and operates The Grand Theatres, has not confirmed nor denied a tip The Ind received concerning an ongoing problem with bed bugs at The Grand 16 on Johnston Street. He does, however, assert that "we're being proactive on it" and "this isn't a big issue."
Bed bugs, the blood-sucking insects known for their night-time attacks, rapid spreading and resilience to pest control treatments, have reemerged across the country in recent years, though major infestations like those experienced in larger cities haven't been reported in Acadiana.
Asked Thursday morning about bed bugs at The Grand 16, Ron Krueger, chief operating officer for Southern Theatres LLC, says "we treat it like any pest that can come into a place of public assembly."
"Things are pretty quiet on our front," Krueger says. "We're being proactive on it and have been for a while. We constantly survey and if there is an issue we do treat."
A recent article from MedicineNet.com explains that bed bugs can live in almost any type of furniture, clothing or bedding. They're also known to hide inside of walls:
They spread by crawling and may contaminate multiple rooms in a home or even multiple dwellings in apartment buildings. They may also be present in boxes, suitcases, or other goods that are moved from residence to residence or from a hotel to home. Bed bugs can live on clothing from infested homes and may be spread by a person unknowingly wearing infested clothing.
Movie theaters in Times Square made headlines in August 2010 when they, too, fell victim to the infiltration of bed bugs in New York City. According to a report from CBS News, an AMC Entertainment spokesman said one theater discovered the bed bugs due to a customer complaint, after which "we immediately closed [the theater]" until it was treated.
The theater in New York also removed the seats from the auditorium and replaced them with new ones, CBS reports.
Asked whether Southern Theatres would close The Grand 16 on Johnston if the problem persists, Krueger says "we haven't seen the need to do that."
"If you have a visitor to your house that has a bed bug, then you're going to have to address it and fix it," Krueger says. "Then if you have another visitor show up you have to treat it again. To characterize it as a consistent problem isn't accurate. We've got a number of guests visiting the theater on a regular basis. It's treating pests like any other pest control. This isn't a big issue."
But bed bugs are not "like any other pest." They are "very adaptable" insects, according to a report from MSNBC, that spread quickly and can easily crawl from furniture (like movie theater seats) to clothing:
They will routinely travel as far as a 20-foot radius from their hiding places (and back) in one night to take a blood meal. They move much quicker, and can pass through much smaller openings or cracks, than most people expect. Even Ph.D. entomologists who work with live bed bugs for the first time are often surprised. Bed bugs can detect (and often avoid) chemical deposits such as some cleaning agents. Adult bed bugs can live longer than a whole year without feeding and most currently labeled insecticides used against them in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia, do not last more than one to three months when applied by a well-trained and competent [pest management professional].