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.
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.
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.
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.
Before making spring break or summer travel plans, consider checking the bed bug registry to see if your hotel is on the list.
The Bed Bug Registry is a website dedicated to reporting bed bug activity across the United States and Canada, for both hotels and other travel accommodations, as well as rental properties. The site offers a free, neutral platform where travelers can report bed bugs in a public environment. Since 2006, the Bed Bug Registry collected over 20,000 reports of bed bugs in 12,000 locations.
Because bed beds are excellent travelers, it’s likely you’ll bring them back home with you if staying in a bed bug infested hotel. So the first step in bed bug prevention is being able to find and identify them. Bed bugs are red to brown in color, depending on when their last blood meal was, flat and oval in shape, and about 1/4 inch in size or smaller. They like to hide in dark, undisturbed areas like the cracks and crevices of bed frames, headboards, mattresses, box springs, furniture, and upholstered items like chairs and storage benches. They can also be found behind baseboards, under carpet, behind electrical switch plates, and in under-bed storage containers. A sure sign of bed bugs are small, dark spots on sheets and pillowcases. If beds bugs are found are suspected, ask to be moved to another room or consider getting a refund and moving to another hotel.
Even if you don’t find bed bugs in your hotel room, there are steps you can take when you get home to prevent a bed bug infestation. Don’t bring your luggage inside your home. Instead, remove all of your clothing, wash immediately and run through a high-heat dryer cycles (bed bugs can’t survive in high temperatures), and then vacuum your suitcase and store outside your home in sealed bags or containers, like in the garage or a storage closet.
If you suspect a bed bug problem in your home, contact an exterminator immediately. Bed bugs are best eliminated when the infestation is identified and controlled early and DIY bed bug treatments are not recommended.