Avoiding Bed Bugs 101: Keeping Vacation Bug-Free
School vacations are a time-honored tradition. This is a great time to get away, refresh your spirit, and catch a few rays while spending time with family & friends. While you’re out there enjoying your vacation, make sure the only thing you brought home were memories.
Bed bugs have been reported in all 50 states and they are especially prevalent in tourist cities and vacation spots. Even the highest dollar hotels are not immune to this problem. Bed bugs don’t care about the green paper in your wallet; they only care about the red blood in your veins. Any warm-blooded mammal will make a good meal for a bed bug!
Sanitation is not a factor when it comes to bed bug control either. Unlike many other pests, they don’t feed on or breed in trash or debris. Bed bugs are nocturnal so you probably wouldn’t see them when you arrive. Since adults are only about the size of an apple seed, it’s hard to tell if a room is infested just by looking at the surface.
These insects are incredibly talented travelers. Hitchhiking on your clothes and bags is what they do best. It’s painfully easy to accidentally pick up a few in the airport or at your hotel. Once they’ve caught a ride, they will probably end up in your home. If you don’t know how to kill bed bugs, it’s no easy task. They hide so well and are so resistant to insecticides that usually only professional bed bug control methods work.
If you want to prevent your home from becoming infested, you have to be very wary when you travel. Being aware that the issue exists is the first step. Once you’ve accepted that bed bugs are indeed a common problem for travelers of all budgets, then use these methods to protect yourself.
As the old saying goes, know your enemy. Know what a bed bug looks like. Know what evidence they leave behind. Know the places they hide and when and where they feed. Know how they can hitch a ride home with you.
- They look like reddish-brown apple seeds but flatter.
- They leave little specks of excrement that look like black pepper. You may also see tiny red-brown blood specks.
- They hide in the crevices of mattresses, box springs or foundations, along the edges of floor moldings, in the cracks of furniture, in the carpets, and even behind the outlet covers and switch plates.
- They feed on the blood of mammals exclusively. They come out at night and feed on you while you sleep, leaving small, itchy, red bumps.
- They crawl onto clothes left on the floor or bed and onto or into suitcases.
Look for bed bugs and evidence of bed bugs before you get comfortable in your room. Check first and check out if you see any!
Don’t leave your suitcase on the floor or bed. Avoid the drawers. Use the rack in your room (after you’ve inspected it). Use sealed packing bags to keep your clothes protected. Keep clean and dirty clothes separate and sealed.
Once home, unpack straight into the washing machine. Wash and dry at the hottest temperature that’s still safe for the clothing. Give your bags a scrub down with a stiff brush, soap, and hot water. Do this on the driveway or patio and not on your carpeting. Wash down the paved area afterward so you don’t track any stray bed bugs or eggs back inside.
Don’t pick up hitchhikers! Prevent bed bugs from hitching a ride to your home.