Don’t Let Bed Bugs Tag Along on Your Vacation

Don’t Let Bed Bugs Tag Along on Your Vacation

You’ve loaded up, reserved a room, and now it’s time for a few days away from the daily grind.

But before you hit the road, or the friendly skies, how do you make sure bed bugs don’t spoil the fun?

Keep reading to learn more about these annoying pests, how to minimize your risk of a bed bug infestation, and what to do if you find them lurking in your home or guest room.

We’ll start by clearing up one of the peskiest myths of all: bed bugs have nothing to do with cleanliness, income or social status.

  • You can spend all day vacuuming and scrubbing and washing all of your sheets — and still get bed bugs.
  • You could be staying in Grandma’s guest room, a cheap roadside motel or a five-star luxury resort — and still get bed bugs.
  • You could be flying coach or first class — or even on your own private jet — and still get bed bugs.

Bed bugs don’t care how much money you make or whether you’re hanging out in the VIP lounge — they just want to feed on your blood, and it tastes the same to them either way.

How Do You Get Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are tiny creatures — adults are only about ¼” long — whose food of choice is human blood. Because of their small size, it’s easy for them to hide in crevices of mattresses, box springs, bed frames and headboards. Although beds are their primary habitat, they can also thrive in couches, recliners and other furniture.

  • Females lay hundreds of eggs over the course of a lifetime.
  • Once the eggs hatch, nymphs reach maturity in as little as a month.
  • Young bed bugs shed their skin 5 times before reaching maturity.
  • They are most active at night and hide during the daytime.
  • If they are unsuccessful at finding food in one apartment or hotel room, they can easily migrate to other locations throughout the building.
  • Bed bugs can go months without feeding.

The rise of international travel over the past few decades has made it very easy for them to find their way into almost any nook and cranny on the globe.

Here are just a few of the places at risk for a bed bug infestation:

  • Homes
  • Apartments
  • Hotels
  • Health care facilities
  • Dormitories
  • Shelters
  • Schools
  • Public transportation
  • Movie theaters
  • Laundromats
  • Rental furniture
  • Office buildings

How Do Bed Bugs Affect Humans?

If most bugs try to bite you while you’re awake, you’ll swat them away. Bed bugs have a clever way of getting around this — they wait until you’re sound asleep to make their move.

  • Bed bugs feed at night while you sleep.
  • They pierce your skin painlessly with a tiny, elongated beak.
  • Each feeding takes 3-10 minutes.
  • The bite is painless and doesn’t wake you up so you don’t feel it.
  • Bed bugs do not reside on people — after feeding they go back to a secluded location such as the folds of your mattress.
  • Some people develop itching or welting after being bitten, while many don’t have any symptoms at all.
  • Bed bugs feed on exposed skin — which may include your face, neck, shoulders, arms, back, legs.
  • They are unlikely to transmit pathogens when they bite.

For bed bugs small is good. Their tiny size means they can easily sneak into luggage, clothing, beds or other items and stay undetected for a long time.

And don’t bother applying insect repellent before bedtime — it doesn’t really work on bed bugs.

How to Prevent Bed Bugs

If you’ve got a vacation or business trip coming up, take a few simple precautions before, during and after you’re gone.

  • Before you leave. Learn to identify bed bugs, their skins and their excrement. Adults are about ¼” long, with flat, oval-shaped bodies and dark brown or dark reddish in color. Take a flashlight with you to help with inspecting guest rooms.
  • When you arrive. Next you want to learn how to find bed bugs. Place your luggage in the bathroom — they tend to avoid this area. Inspect the following locations using your flashlight:
    • Box spring
    • Mattress seams
    • Headboard
    • Chair cushions
    • Chair seams
    • Luggage racks
    • Drawers
    • Pull back sheets to inspect bed

Don’t place luggage on uninspected surfaces. If you find bed bugs or any other pests, notify staff and change rooms. Your new room should not be adjacent to old room.

  • When returning home. Remove clothing from your luggage and wash and dry in hot water and high heat to kill any bed bugs that may be lurking inside. Inspect all of your luggage with a flashlight and vacuum before bringing inside.

Besides travel, acquiring used furniture or other second-hand items could also introduce bed bugs into your home.

  • Use caution when acquiring used furniture.
  • Avoid discarded items.
  • Examine secondhand articles with a flashlight before bringing them into the house.
  • Check folds and seams of used furniture.

How Do You Get Rid of Bed Bugs?

Once an infestation occurs, bed bugs can be difficult to get rid of.

Although bed bugs are increasingly resistant to many chemical pesticides, temperatures of 118 degrees Fahrenheit or higher will kill them in just a few minutes — that includes adults, nymphs and eggs. That’s why heat is often the most effective treatment for bed bugs.

Here’s how a heat treatment works:

  • The affected room(s) are sealed off.
  • Portable heaters raise the room temperature above 118 degrees.
  • Sensors tell your pest control provider when lethal temperatures are reached.
  • Temperatures are sustained long enough to kill all life stages and eliminate “cold spots” where bed bugs might attempt to escape.

In addition to the heat treatment, your provider might apply a fast-acting insecticide that is lethal to bed bugs but safe for humans and pets.

Do you have questions about dealing with bed bugs while traveling? Do you need help eliminating an infestation in your home?
Get in touch with Fight the Bite. We’ll help you get rid of these unwanted guests.