Bed Bugs while Traveling

2014-09-24 17.02.00

Denver Botanic Gardens

Summer is finally coming. With the end of school near and Memorial Day only a couple of weeks away, many of us will began planning our summer vacations. Summer vacations are so much fun and a great way to bond with your family. However vacations are not so much fun if you unintentionally bring home some unwanted guests, bed bugs.

Bed Bug after feeding

Bed bug photo by Vicki Jedlicka, Lancaster County Extension

Bed bugs are flat, wingless insects with adults reaching a size of approximately one-quarter of an inch in length. These insects are reddish brown and are usually a deeper red after they have finished feeding. Bed bugs feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals, mainly humans, but do not spread diseases.

bed bug bite 2

A common first indicator of bed bugs would be bite marks on your body. The bites are usually found around a person’s neck, arms, and shoulders, but sometimes are found on a person’s legs and ankles. The bite marks are not always a good indicator of bed bugs because 30 percent of the population does not react to bed bugs even when bitten repeatedly. Other signs of a bed bug infestation include small brown fecal spots on the bed, linens, pillows, or on items surrounding the bed such as the nightstand. You may also see the bed bugs themselves because they are large enough to see with the naked eye.

2013-06-16 00.40.30

Luggage in the bathtub while inspecting a room for bed bugs.

There are methods to protect yourself from a bed bug infestation while traveling. Check out the room you will be staying in before you put your belongings in the room. While doing a bed bug inspection in a hotel room, place your luggage in the bathtub where the bed bugs cannot access it. Look at the beds, sheets, behind the headboard and in the nightstand for fecal smears or the bugs themselves. If you don’t see anything, you should still be careful when you get home. Leave the luggage in the car in the sun for a few hours on a hot day to kill any bugs and eggs that may have gotten into your luggage. Also, take your clothes straight to the washer and dryer when you get home rather than leaving it in your bedroom for a few days prior to washing. If you wash clothing and dry it on the medium to hot setting for 20-30 minutes you will kill the bugs and eggs found in your laundry. If you can’t get it all washed right away, leave the luggage outside or in the garage until it can be moved to the washer or dryer. Inspect toiletries before bringing them indoors as well. A duffel bag is preferred to a suitcase because it can be thrown into the dryer after travel. Shoes and purses can be placed in the freezer for a few days to kill any bugs and eggs found on them.

Bed bugs are very hard to control, 88 percent of all bed bug populations have become resistant to the chemicals that we use to control them. Bug bombs are not effective at controlling bed bugs because the chemicals from the bug bomb cannot get to the hiding locations of bed bugs. If you have a bed bug infestation in your home it is best to contact a pest control company for management. Reducing clutter in your home will help reduce the infestation as well because bed bugs can hide in clutter to avoid being sprayed. Getting a bed bug infestation does not mean that you have a dirty house or that the hotel is not clean, they will infest anywhere people are commonly found because that is their food source.

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