No matter how you travel or where you stay over the holidays, picking up bed bugs and bringing them home is a possibility everyone wants to avoid. While most travelers think that bed bugs can only get picked up in dirty hotel rooms, these sneaky pests can find their way into your baggage during many points of your getaway.
Bed bugs do not discriminate between budget travel and luxurious accommodations – and they can be found everywhere from movie theatres to museums to the couch in your hotel rooms to the towels offered at the pool. Just a few bed bugs are all it takes to infest your suitcase, an entire mode of transportation, and, ultimately, your home.
Signs you May Have Encountered Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are the size and shape of an apple seed, making them particularly hard to see in some situations such as when they are wedged in the corner of a suitcase, or in a crack behind a headboard. And in the excitement of travel, you probably won’t spot them unless you take the time to look. After arriving in your hotel room (before jumping on the bed and unpacking), you’ll want to look for:
- Tiny black or brown stains on bedding, mattresses, or upholstered furniture left by bed bugs after they feed on human blood
- Cast skins, which look like small, white, “hollow” bed bugs
- A musty smell, similar to coriander or cilantro.
If you suspect any bed bugs may be present, it’s imperative to notify the hotel and change rooms immediately.
How to Avoid Bringing Bed Bugs Home
Bed bugs quickly move from location to location and knowing how to keep them from ruining your getaway is essential. Here are nine tips on how to keep bed bugs at bay:
- Check for bed bugs after arrival at your hotel or rental.
- Inspect furniture (especially fabric headboards, couches, chairs, and curtains) for the signs mentioned above. Check the seams and zippers of cushions and the black “cheesecloth” fabric on the undersides of chairs.
- Don’t leave clothes on the floor, bed or furniture of where you’re staying.
- Put luggage in a plastic trash bag during your stay to deter bed bugs from taking up residence, or place bags in the bathroom to make it harder for bed bugs to reach your items.
- Keep dirty clothing in sealed bags to make them easier to clean after your getaway and reduce possible bed bug transmission.
- Place all clothing worn during travel in the washing machine as soon as you get home. Use hot water and then dry on a complete high heat cycle. Make sure the items will not be damaged by the dryer’s high heat cycle.
- Vacuum suitcases to get rid of any remaining pests.
Getting rid of the pesky travel partners
Home sweet home – or so you hope. Bed bug bites are often mistaken for mosquito bites so they can go undetected during your getaway. And the last thing you want to bring into your house as a reminder of a fantastic holiday vacation is the bed bugs that hitched a ride with you. Before checking out of your hotel or rental, inspect luggage, clothing, and personal items for the red and black stains of bed bug waste products.
If you do bring bed bugs home with you, Western Pest Services is here to help with three options:
- Our canine scent detection dogs can help sniff out bed bugs, resulting in lower treatment costs by detecting bed bugs early on before a major infestation occurs.
- Heat treatment is an eco-friendly way to penetrate to bed bugs in furniture, walls, and electronics, eliminating bed bugs in hard-to-reach areas.
- Our bed bug solution based on Integrated Pest Management, or “IPM” helps prevent an introduction from growing into an infestation while treating cracks, crevices, and other common bed bug hiding spots.