How to Prevent Bringing Bed Bugs Home From Travels
Before we know it, summer will be here and millions of people around the country will begin packing their bags to have some fun in the sun. Before embarking on vacations, many of these travelers will create a travel checklist to help them prepare for hitting the road. While packing sunscreen, turning off lights, cleaning out the fridge and locking doors are all likely to make the list, it’s also important for travelers to bring along another type of list to use before and after unpacking from their trips — the bed bug prevention checklist.
Even the most seasoned travelers are at a higher risk of encountering bed bugs when traveling because these blood-sucking pests are excellent hitchhikers and are easily transported from one place to another in human belongings like suitcases. As a result, bed bugs continue to remain a problem in lodging facilities. In fact, 75 percent of pest professionals have treated bed bugs in hotels and motels, according to the 2013 Bugs Without Borders Survey conducted by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and the University of Kentucky.
All travelers will benefit from a little bed bug know-how to help ensure they don’t bring them home as an unwanted souvenir. If you and your family are planning on getting away this summer, here is your bed bug prevention checklist:
When You Arrive At The Hotel
- Thoroughly inspect the entire room before unpacking, including behind the headboard, under lights, and inside dressers, drawers, sofas and chairs.
- Pull back the sheets and inspect the mattress seams and box springs, particularly at the corners, for pepper-like stains, spots or shed bed bug skins.
- Place suitcase in a plastic trash bag during the duration of your trip to ensure that bed bugs cannot take up residence there prior to departure.
- Do not place luggage on upholstered surfaces. The safest place is in the bathroom in the middle of a tile floor or on a luggage rack after it has been thoroughly inspected. Do not use a luggage rack if it has hollow legs, where bed bugs may hide unseen.
If You Suspect Bed Bugs Are In Your Hotel Room
- Notify management and request to change rooms immediately.
- Do not move to a room adjacent and/or directly above/below the suspected infestation. Bed bugs can easily hitchhike via housekeeping carts, luggage and even through wall sockets. If an infestation is spreading, it typically does so in the rooms closest to the origin.
When You Arrive Home
- Inspect your suitcases outdoors before bringing them into the house.
- Vacuum your suitcase thoroughly before storing it. Consider using a garment hand steamer to steam your luggage, which can kill any bed bugs or eggs that may have traveled home with you.
- Wash and dry all of your clothes – even those that have not been worn – on hot cycles.
- Keep clothes that go to the dry cleaner in a sealed plastic bag until they can be transported.
If you get settled back in at home following a trip and suspect that you may have brought some hitchhiking bed bugs back with you, contact a licensed pest professional in a timely manner. Bed bugs are not a DIY pest and should be left to a professional.
- Fully inspect your suitcases prior to re-packing for a return to school, especially if you have traveled during the summer. Be sure that any clothes that may have been previously packed in the suitcase have been washed and dried in hot temperatures .
- Before putting your sheets on your dormitory bed, inspect the mattress seams, particularly at the corners, for telltale stains or spots. Thoroughly inspect the entire room before unpacking, including behind the headboard and in sofas/chairs.
- If you are considering bringing “secondhand” furniture to campus, properly inspect it to insure that a pest problem, such as bed bugs, is not the reason for its “secondhand” status. If you see anything suspect, do not bring it to campus.
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NATIONAL PEST MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION REPORTS RESURGENCE IN BEDBUG INFESTATIONS
Bedbugs Infesting Residential and Multifamily Homes, Apartment Complexes, Residence Halls, Hospitals and Hotels
According to the National Pest Management Association, pest control companies are reporting a significant increase in the number of calls regarding bedbug infestations. Renowned hitchhikers, bedbugs catch rides in luggage, shoes, pant hems and any other mobile material. Although there is no way to determine the actual cause of the resurgence, experts are attributing the increase to several things, which include global travel and the mobility of the pest.
These infestations can be difficult to detect due to the elusive, nocturnal and transient nature of the pest. Although their name suggests otherwise, bedbugs can be found in carpets, peeling wallpaper, light fixtures, and any crack small enough for a thin insect to hide. Bedbug infestations are not a sign of unsanitary or unclean living areas.
Adult bedbugs are about the size and shape of a lentil. Their color depends on how recently they have eaten. They turn red after consuming a blood meal and then begin to gradually turn a brownish color. Capable of living up to ten months without a meal, a single bedbug can lay up to 500 eggs in its lifetime.
As bedbugs bite human skin, they inject an anesthetic-like liquid that numbs the skin and allows the pest to bite undisturbed. In fact, humans don’t usually wake up when they are being bitten; however, they do find themselves scratching circular, red, itchy welts in the morning.
Bedbug infestations should only be treated by trained, licensed professional pest management companies. This is not an infestation that can be treated by do-it-yourself measures. Professionals know where to look and can offer the most up to date methods of bedbug control.
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