Bed bugs after travel: don’t bring bed bugs home after your holiday travels. Good rule of thumb? Keep your luggage in the bathroom, and not on the spare bed.
After a day of travel, many of us, upon arrival to a hotel room, will deposit our luggage on a luggage rack and flop onto the bed. And while this may be the most convenient—and comfortable—series of events, it’s also the riskiest. The reason? These locales are prime real estate for bed bugs.
Small, wingless insects that feed on human and animal blood, the common bed bug (or Cimex lectularius) are able to lay hundreds of eggs in their life span and these eggs are hard to spot—each is no larger than a speck of dust. The statistics are somewhat terrifying: According to a 2015 survey, hotels and motels are the third most popular place pest professionals encounter bed bugs. Once inside a hotel, bed bugs are easily able to spread from room to room through a number of means including pipes, wall sockets, vacuum cleaners, clothing, and luggage. And they’re not just found at seedy motels either. Bed bugs have been spotted in five-star hotels and resorts as, according to the Centers for Disease Control, their presence is « not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions where they are found. »
According to the National Pest Management Association, « Bed bugs can ingest seven times their own weight in blood, which would be the equivalent of an average-sized male drinking 120 gallons of liquid. » Partly because of this, bed bugs can survive several months without eating, making them incredibly hard to control. They can show up just about anywhere imaginable and according to the CDC, though bed bugs can travel up to 100 feet a night, they generally live within eight feet of where you sleep. Comforting, right? Wrong!
In recent years, bed bugs have been on the rise across the country. A 2015 Bugs Without Borders study found that bed bug treatments are significantly more prevalent nationwide than they were 15 years ago and that New York City hotels alone saw a 44 percent increase in January of 2016 compared to 2015.
To minimize your risk of contact with bed bugs at a hotel, experts say you should first place your luggage in the bathtub, a slippery surface that is difficult for the bugs to cling onto. Continue inspecting your room by examining the bed: check the mattress, piping, and headboard, pull up the comforters and look for small black dots that resemble ground pepper. Other warning signs include a musty odor, bed bug exoskeletons, and rust-colored spots on nearby furniture. If you see anything suspicious, stay calm and contact hotel staff immediately—one bug doesn’t mean an infestation.
How do I know if a hotel has—or has had—bed bugs?
Check the bed bug registry, which is a free, public database with user-submitted reports for venues in the U.S. and Canada—so far, the site has amassed more than 20,000 reports from 12,000 locations. Users can sign up to receive free alerts if bed bugs are reported within a mile of them or look at interactive city maps with bed bug reports. Unfortunately, no federal bed bug law exists, though hotels are expected to keep you safe under common law.
What health risks are there from a bed bug bite? Can I get a disease?
Bed bug bites affect everyone differently and many people don’t know they’ve been bitten until several days after, when they notice a small, slightly swollen, red area that may itch—similar to a mosquito or flea bite. (Bite marks can take as long as 14 days to develop.) Bed bugs aren’t known to spread disease, but an allergic reaction to bites—though statistically very rare—can happen. Excessive scratching of a bite can also result in a skin infection. Keep in mind that one out of three people show no reaction to bites. Learn more about bed bug treatment.
How do I make sure I’m not transporting bed bugs?
According to a 2015 Bugs Without Borders survey, bed bugs are the most difficult pest to treat—even more so than cockroaches, termites, and ants—because they can survive several months without eating, withstand temperatures from freezing to 122 degrees Fahrenheit and lay up to five eggs in one day. There’s a reason, after all, they’ve been around for centuries: A 2016 New Yorker article notes that « ancient Greeks were already complaining about bed bugs in the fifth century B.C. »
When it comes to bed bug prevention, being thorough goes a long way: After a trip somewhere, inspect any luggage you have to make sure no bed bugs have hitched a ride. Then, make sure to wash all of your clothes in hot water and dry them on high heat—even if you haven’t worn them—so that no bed bugs can make their way into your home. Once unpacked, place your suitcase in a large, tightly sealed garbage bag until you need it next. Before using the suitcase again, vacuum and wipe down the suitcase and visually inspect for any bed bug activity.
Bed Bugs Exterminator
If you want to learn more about how to get rid of bed bugs or if you think you already have a bed bug infestation and you need to exterminate them, we invite you to contact us today. It will be our pleasure to answer you questions.