Traveling and Bed Bugs
If you are traveling for any reason to a hotel or someone’s house, bed bugs may be furthest thing from your mind. But with the number of cases up about 200% in our area over the past two years, you may want to at least keep the thought in the back of your mind. The best way to avoid bringing bed bugs home is to educate yourself, and a few quick preventative measures now could help you to avoid a long, expensive, and exhausting process later. Since travel is one of the most common ways to come in contact with bed bugs, here are some tips for you as we approach a very busy travel season.
1. Do your pre-travel homework
Before you leave, take a little time and look around the web for reviews on your destination. Keep in mind to look at any complaints and the dates, the hotel may have since taken care of the problem. Also Bed Bug Registries offer historical data so you can check out any potential hotels or destinations on the Bed Bug Registry.
Bed bug adults are reddish/brown in color and roughly the size of an apple seed (or tick). Bed bug nymphs are about 1/32 inch and can be translucent or red if they have just fed. Bed bug eggs are tiny, similar in size to dust, white/clear and hard to see without magnification, especially on light colored surfaces. Bed bug fecal spots (droppings) are black dot looking marks of dried bed bug excrement, similar to ground black pepper. They will shed their skin 5 times before reaching adulthood, which can take anywhere from 5 to 8 weeks, and with each molt bed bugs will require a blood meal. Before young bed bugs shed their skin and grow, castings are yellowish in color.
Once arriving at a hotel room, place all of your belongings in the bathroom (safe zone) while you begin your bed bug investigation. Bed bugs are not contained to just the bed. Your inspection should include mattress, box spring, headboard, nightstand, furniture in the room, mirrors, artwork, around the outlets, and luggage racks looking for the indicators listed above.
Here are a few other tips to keep in mind while you are setting up your room:
- Inspect the luggage stand (where the straps attach to the metal bars) and put your bag up on the stand away from the wall. If you wanted to go a very safe route, storing your bags and belongings in the bathtub overnight would be best.
- DO NOT put your suitcase on the spare bed or put your belongings in the drawers or on the floor.
- Check the closet for bed bugs before hanging up any clothes (a flashlight would be helpful for this).
- DO NOT put your shoes under the bed.
4. Stay Alert
During your stay if you wake up with bites or notice something on the bed, perform another inspection. If you notice anything suspicious, bring it to the hotel’s attention right away.
5. Clean and Monitor
Once you arrive home, you will want to begin washing and drying all of your clothes (even if you didn’t wear them), this will kill off all life stages of bed bugs that may have hitched a ride. Carefully inspect all of your luggage, focusing around the seams and zippers looking for signs. If you think your luggage encountered bed bugs at any time, seal your suitcases and items waiting to be washed in a plastic bag (after you are done with it, throw the plastic bag away OUTSIDE). Dry cleaning and steam cleaning will also kill bed bugs in fabric, including soft luggage, that can’t be washed and dried. Once home and settled in, be on the lookout for bites and other signs. If you are at any time unsure if you have a bed bug problem, call Mug-A-Bug immediately to schedule an inspection.
If you believe that bed bugs may have come home with you, don’t hesitate to call! Identifying the presence of bed bugs and starting service to eradicate the bed bug problem is something only professionals can do. Store bought products, such as sprays and aerosols, will only serve to drive them deeper into hiding, and since they can go up to a year without feeding, they will wait you out!