Traveling can be stressful. The last thing anyone wants to deal with on top of the routine stress of traveling is bed bugs. These pests are notorious hitchhikers and often catch rides with travelers on their luggage to move from place to place. How can you eliminate the potential for bed bugs while traveling? Here is our traveler’s guide to bed bugs to help make your trip as smooth and bed bug free as possible.
Properly identifying bed bugs is the first step to preventing an infestation. There are other common bugs that are often mistaken for bed bugs like carpet beetles, spider beetles, bat bugs, booklice, and fleas. Bed bugs are small, about 3/16″ to 1/4″ in length (about the size of an apple seed). If they have not fed recently, they are long and brown with a flat, oval-shaped body. If they have recently had a meal, they will be balloon-like and elongated with a reddish-brown color. They are “true bugs” with a 3-segmented beak, antenna with 4 parts, wings that aren’t used for flying, and short, golden-colored hairs. They also have an odor which is often described as sweetish or musty. Bed bug nymphs are smaller, translucent, and whitish-yellow in color. Bed bug eggs are tiny, about the size of a pinhead and are pearl white in color.
The next step in bed bug prevention is recognizing the signs of the presence of bed bugs. You should look for signs of bed bugs any time you are cleaning, changing bed linens, or inspecting the area where you are staying on a trip. Signs of bed bugs include rusty, reddish-brown stains on the bed sheets or mattress that happen when bed bugs are crushed; dark spots about the size of a period that are bed bug excrement that bleeds onto bed linens; eggs and eggshells that are tiny (about 1 mm in size); pale yellow skins that are shed by the nymphs; and live bed bugs. Any of these signs indicate the presence of bed bugs.
Bed bugs are tiny pests that can fit into a crack or crevice the size of a credit card. Knowing where bed bugs can hide is the next step to avoiding them. When checking for bed bugs, thoroughly inspect the piping, seams, and tags of mattresses and box springs; cracks in the bed frame and headboard; seams of chairs and couches; between cushions; in the folds of curtains; in drawer joints; in electrical receptacles and appliances; under loose wallpaper and wall hangings; where the wall and the ceiling meet; along baseboard seams and cracks; and in the head of screws.
Knowing how bed bugs act is essential to finding, eliminating, and preventing them. Bed bugs prefer to feed on humans but will also feed on other mammals and even birds. They will travel anywhere from 5 to 20 feet from their hiding spots to feed on a host. They are primarily nocturnal but will seek a host during daylight in larger infestations. They will feed on a host anywhere from 3 to 12 minutes. Bed bugs need at least 1 blood meal to be able to develop into the next stage of their life cycle. In order to continue to mate and produce eggs, both male and female bed bugs must feed at least once every 14 days. Females lay anywhere from 1 to 3 eggs per day and 200 to 500 eggs in their lifetime. They can survive temperatures as low as 46 degrees Fahrenheit but will die when their body temperature reaches 113 degrees Fahrenheit; hence the use of heat in bed bug treatments. Bed bugs can be found anywhere their hosts can be found.
Now that you know what bed bugs look like, where to find them, and how they act, the final step is how to prevent them. This is especially important when you are traveling. The first step is to check the bed bug registry to make sure the place you are staying doesn’t have any recently reported cases of bed bugs. Anytime you are staying outside your home, inspect the room where you are staying thoroughly for the presence of bed bugs. Use a flashlight and pull the sheet back to get a closer look. Inspect all of the areas listed above where bed bugs can hide. Use luggage racks to store your suitcases and bags and try to avoid putting them on the bed or the floor. Keep your belongings stored separately from those of the others you may be staying with. Consider storing your luggage in trash bags or protective coverings during your stay. If you find signs of bed bugs where you are staying, request to change rooms. If you must change rooms, do not move into a room that is adjacent to or directly above or below the infested room. When you return home from your trip, unpack your luggage directly into your washing machine and wash and dry everything on high heat. Inspect your luggage for bed bugs and use a vacuum or hand steamer to clean it before storing it. Keep luggage stored away from your bedroom, possibly in the basement or garage. Never store luggage under your bed.
With this traveler’s guide to bed bugs you will be well equipped for your next trip. If you suspect you have a bed bug infestation, contact a professional pest control company who can provide a thorough inspection and bed bug control service.
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Bed bugs are one of the most difficult pests to get rid of. Early detection is critical for bed bug control. A minor infestation can be an inconvenience but it is much less expensive and easier to treat than a widespread infestation. Minor infestations can be difficult to find and correctly diagnose, however. Other insects like carpet beetles are often mistaken for bed bugs. Misidentification or delay in detection can allow the bed bugs more time to spread and proliferate. How do you find bed bugs? Where can bed bugs hide?
The first step in finding bed bugs is properly identifying them. Adult bed bugs are brown or reddish-brown with flat, oval-shaped bodies that are about 1/4″ to 5/8″ long. Their flat body shape allows them to hide in cracks and crevices. Bed bugs become swollen and engorged after feeding. They are found throughout the United States.
Learning and understanding the habits and behavior of bed bugs can also help identify an infestation early. Bed bugs like to travel and are notoriously good hitchhikers. Bed bugs usually emerge at night in search of their blood meal but will feed during the day if necessary. While bed bugs are most commonly known for feeding on humans, they will also feed on other mammals and birds too. They usually hide near their food source.
Knowing and recognizing the signs of a bed bug infestation is key to identifying them early and getting rid of them quickly. Some common signs of bed bugs include:
- Rust or red-colored stains on sheets and mattresses (this is caused by the bed bugs being crushed)
- Dark spots about the size of a period (.) (these are bed bug feces)
- Tiny eggs or eggshells shed by growing bed bug nymphs
- Live bed bugs
- Bites on areas of the skin that are exposed during sleep
Once you know the signs to look for, the next step is to thoroughly inspect any areas that could potentially harbor bed bugs. Bed bugs are found in every place humans gather including homes, hotels, schools, offices, stores, and public transportation. They like to use their flat shape to hide in cracks and crevices close to humans. They can fit in any opening the width of a credit card. When checking for bed bugs, use a flashlight and magnifying glass to thoroughly check the following areas:
- In the seams of chairs and couches and in between cushions
- In the folds of curtains
- In drawer joints
- In electrical outlets and appliances
- Under loose wallpaper and behind wall hangings
- At the junction of walls and ceilings
- In the heads of screws
- On mattresses and box springs, especially along seams and edges
- Along the bed frame
- In cracks in plaster and wallpaper seams
- In luggage or boxes stored in infested rooms
- In objects on nightstands including clocks and magazines or books
- In crevices of smoke detectors and phones
- In door hinges and window and door moldings
Bed bugs can be extremely difficult to get rid of. If you spot signs of a bed bug infestation, contact a licensed pest control company who can positively identify the bed bugs and use professional grade techniques and products to eliminate the infestation. In the meantime, there are some things you can do to help prevent bed bugs in the first place.
- Reduce clutter in your home.
- Vacuum suitcases when returning from a trip.
- Routinely check linens and mattresses for signs of bed bugs.
- Make sure to also regularly check areas where your pets sleep for signs of bed bugs.
- Bring a large trash bag to store your suitcase in during travel.
- Bring a small flashlight and magnifying glass with you when traveling to help inspect your accommodations.
- Thoroughly inspect any used furniture before bringing them into your home.
- Check the Bed Bug Registry for your travel accommodations to see if they have any recent reports of bed bugs.
- Immediately wash your clothes in hot water and dry them on high heat after returning from travel.
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Now that the holidays and spring break are over, travel season is slowing down; but that doesn’t mean that bed bug season is too. Bed bugs are active year-round. Even though you may not be travelling, guests coming to your home can bring bed bugs in too. Bed bugs are nuisance pests that are extremely difficult to get rid of. They are notorious hitchhikers, most commonly catching a ride on bags, purses, luggage, and wheelchairs, but they can also be found on clothing. Anyone can bring bed bugs into your home – an unexpected house guest, your spouse returning from an out of town work trip, or even your child coming home for a visit from college. Once bed bugs have gotten into your home, professional bed bug control is your best option to get rid of them. However, there are things you can do to help keep guests from bringing these pests into your home.
- Don’t put any guests’ coats or bags on the bed. Instead, clean out your front closet and use it to store coats and bags. Make sure to vacuum it immediately after your guests leave.
- If there isn’t ample closet space for your guests, place a sheet under the stored bags and coats and once the guests leave, put the sheet in the dryer on high heat for 30 minutes.
- Ask your visitors to immediately change into clean clothes when they enter the house.
- Launder all of their clothing on their arrival.
- Store their suitcases and bags in a plastic bag or box that can be sealed.
- Wipe their shoes down with a damp cloth with hot water or place them in the dryer if possible.
- Encase mattresses on guest beds with bed bug encasements.
- If your guests are sleeping on the couch, place a sheet over it and launder it immediately after your guests leave. Vacuum the couch, as well.
- Ask your guests to remove their shoes and keep them on a plastic mat by the door. Once they leave, clean the mat thoroughly.
- Use slipcovers on all of your furniture and launder them on high heat immediately after your guests leave.
- If your guests bring gifts, launder or clean anything that can be washed; wipe down wood or plastic items with a damp cloth.
- Bag, seal, and dispose of any packing boxes or wrapping paper immediately.
- Report any known cases of bed bugs to the bed bug registry.
- Call a pest control professional if you suspect you have a bed bug problem.
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With the increase in travel during the upcoming Spring Break season, the incidence of bed bugs will be on the rise. Bed bugs are difficult to get rid of; notorious hitchhikers that can travel with ease from place to place. They also don’t discriminate – bed bugs have been reported in accommodations ranging from 1 star motels to 5 star luxury resorts and everywhere in between, and have been reported around the world. Most home bed bug infestations occur after travel or are brought in by guests. So what can you do to make sure these pests don’t arrive uninvited after your spring break travels?
Do Your Homework
There are several resources out there that provide reports of bed bug infestations at hotels and other lodging facilities. The Bed Bug Registry is a free public database of user-submitted bed bug reports from across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Established in 2006, the Bed Bug Registry has mapped more than 12,000 hotels based on over 20,000 reports from travelers. Other user-generated sites like TripAdvisor also offer reviews that include bed bug reports.
Know What To Look For
Bed bugs are small, only about 4 to 5 mm in size. They are the size of a standard pearl. They have flat, oval-shaped bodies that are red or brown in color. Before traveling, download the EPA’s wallet-sized bed bug identification card for reference.
Check Your Accommodations
Where do you look for bed bugs? Bed bugs are excellent hiders. They are nocturnal so finding them during the day can be a challenge. Always check your room thoroughly before unloading your luggage. Bed bugs are usually found within 20 feet of a host (usually a bed). Bed bugs are commonly found in the seams of mattresses, in the cracks of headboards, in baseboards, and in the folds of upholstered furniture. They can also be found in drawers and closets and even in the fabric of luggage rack straps. Be sure to check each of these places thoroughly and use a flashlight if possible. Leave your luggage outside the door while you check for bed bugs. Be sure to also check the sheets and mattress for small brown spots sometimes tinged with blood. This is a tell-tale sign of a bed bug problem.
Know What To Do
If you find evidence of bed bugs in your room, notify the front desk and hotel manager immediately. Request to be transferred to another room that is not above, below, or adjacent to the infested room as bed bugs can travel through cracks in the ceiling, walls, and floor. If you aren’t comfortable, request a refund and find other accommodations. Request that the hotel launder your clothes immediately. Place all your garments in a sealed bag and put them in the dryer again when you get home. Steam your luggage, as well.
Prevention Is Key
One way to avoid bed bugs is to take steps to prevent them in the first place. Pack a large trash bag with your luggage and store your luggage in it while in the room. Don’t leave any clothes, purses, or computer bags on upholstered furniture in your room. Keep all bags closed when not in use. Double check your bags and clothing before you repack. Once you return home, immediately unpack your dirty clothes directly into the washer and then dry them on high heat. Store your suitcases away from any living areas such as in the garage or the basement.
Call A Professional
Bed bugs can be extremely difficult to get rid of. If you suspect you have a bed bug problem, contact a professional pest control company who can provide you with a thorough inspection and the appropriate treatment plan for your situation.
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For many of us, the holiday season is a time of joy. It is also a time for travel as we look forward to spending time with family and friends. One thing that can damper our holiday season is dealing with unwanted visitors – no, not that cranky Scrooge of a relative – but bed bugs! Bed bugs are notorious hitchhikers, tagging along with unsuspecting travelers on their clothes and luggage. As we enter the biggest travel season of the year, check out these tips for preventing bed bugs and preserving your holiday cheer.
1. Prepare For Your Guests
When you have guests staying with you, make sure you are prepared for the possibility of bed bugs being brought in with them. Don’t put your guests’ coats and bags on the bed. Instead, clean out a closet and use it to store their belongings. If you have to put their items on the bed, lay a sheet down first. It can be cleaned later. Place a plastic mat by the door for them to place their shoes on. If possible, provide luggage racks for them to use to store their belongings on. Use a bed bug mattress cover on any beds your guests will be using. If your guests will be sleeping on the couch, lay a sheet down over it first.
2. Clean Up After They Leave
Once your guests leave, make sure to go behind anywhere they kept coats or luggage and clean. Vacuum closets where luggage and coats were kept. Vacuum the beds and couches where they slept. Seal the vacuum bags immediately and dispose of them outside. If you used sheets under luggage or on your couches, wash them in hot water and dry them on high heat. Wash the plastic mat you used for their shoes with hot, soapy water.
3. Be On The Lookout
Whether you have guests who just left or you are the guest yourself, check your surroundings for signs of bed bugs. Inspect the mattress, box springs, and headboard, especially around edges and seams. Make sure to check couch cushions and chairs, as well. The most common sign of bed bugs is small, rust colored spots. Avoid using dresser drawers if possible. When you arrive at your destination, especially if you have been in a heavily populated area (subway, bus, airport, etc) check your shoes, jackets, hats, and luggage immediately. Be sure to check around zippers and seams. If you spot bed bugs, remove the clothing immediately and wash in hot water and dry on high heat. Vacuum luggage and seal and dispose of the vacuum bag immediately. If you are going to be a guest at a hotel or other lodging accommodation, you can also check the Bed Bug Registry, which is a free user-submitted database of bed bug reports across the US and Canada.
4. Don’t Wait Around
Once you arrive home from your travels, unpack your luggage and change your clothes immediately. Wash everything in hot water and dry on high heat. The heat of the water and air from the dryer will kill any bed bugs that may be lingering around. Once unpacked, vacuum or steam your luggage and seal it in plastic bags or containers. Store your luggage outside the home (in a garage, shed, etc) until you need to use them again.
5. Call The Pros
Bed bugs are resilient and can be extremely difficult to get rid of. If you suspect you have a bed bug problem, call a pest control professional who can come in and provide you with a thorough evaluation and comprehensive treatment plan.