What To Know About Bed Bugs and Summer Travel

Bed bugs are small, oval, brown insects that feed on the blood of animals and humans. Adult bed bugs have flat bodies about the size of an apple seed. After feeding, they swell and turn a reddish color. Bed bugs’ flattened bodies make it possible for them to fit into tiny spaces, about the width of a credit card, which means they can get just about anywhere. They tend to live in groups in hiding places and can move quickly over floors, walls and ceilings. 

Summer is the peak season for travel in the U.S., and it’s also the time of year when bug activity picks up. Bed bugs can be found in many places, the most common being hotels and other commercial lodging establishments. They can also show up in airports, movie theaters and any environment where people congregate, including your own home. Bed bugs have different ways they can get from one place to another, including crawling into luggage, purses, clothing, and other belongings. They also can move easily between rooms and through cracks, crevices and ventilation systems. 

Studies have shown that 80 percent of pest professionals have treated bed bugs in hotels and motels. If you are staying in a hotel this summer, please be mindful of the dangers bed bugs can present. Upon entering your room, do not put your suitcase on the floor in the corner. The safest place for your suitcase is the bathroom, where bed bugs are least likely to hide. You can also cover your suitcase in a plastic bag at the hotel to make it less susceptible to invasion.  Pull back the sheets and inspect the mattress seams, particularly at the corners, for pepper-like stains or spots. Also, check the headboard, inside couch and chair cushions, behind picture frames, and around electrical sockets. 

When returning home, inspect your suitcases before bringing them into the house. Vacuum your suitcase thoroughly before storing it, and consider using a garment hand steamer to steam your luggage. Wash all of your clothes, even those you didn’t wear on the trip, in hot water to kill off any potential bed bug problems. Keeping your dirty clothes in sealed bags at the hotel can also make the process easier for coming home.

Unfortunately, if you do discover bed bugs at home, it’s best to work with a professional pest control company to treat the infestation and perform follow-up inspections. Bed bugs do not spread diseases, but the itching from their bites can cause skin infections. Serious allergic reactions are also possible. Recommended treatments for people dealing with bed bugs include washing the bites gently with soap and water, using an anti-itch cream or lotion on your skin, and repeating these steps once or twice a day until the itching fades. Bed bug infestations can be treated, but in some cases items such as mattresses, chairs and couches have to be removed from the house and discarded.