Bed bugs can travel along with you from your infested hotel room back to your home by clinging to the clothes you are wearing or the clothes inside your suitcase. Professional exterminators consider hotel rooms as one of the top three places known to certainly have bed bugs. They say that the more severe the hotel’s infestation is, the higher the chances of you bringing home the pest.
If you are traveling soon and want to know more about how to avoid taking home bed bugs from the hotel room you are staying at, then keep on reading.
What are bed bugs?
Before we dive further into how to avoid bringing home bed bugs from vacation, let us first discuss what exactly bed bugs are.
Bed bugs are small, brown insects with oval-shaped bodies that survive by drinking blood from humans and animals. The adults are about the size of an apple seed and have flat bodies. After feeding, their bodies swell up and become a reddish color because of all the blood it has consumed.
These bugs do not fly, but they move very quickly on floors, ceilings, and walls. The female of the species lays hundreds of eggs which each look about as small as a speck of dust.
The intermediate stage, or nymphs, shed their skin up to five times until they reach full maturity. Each shedding requires a blood meal. Under favorable conditions, bed bugs can develop into an adult in about a month and will be able to produce three or more generations each year.
Bed bugs are annoying, but they are not thought to carry any transmissible diseases.
What happens when I get bit by a bed bug?
Bed bugs are mainly active at night and like to bite people when they are asleep, probably because people are motionless and do not move around much.
Bed bugs will pierce the person’s skin with their elongated beak and drink the blood. Feeding time is around ten minutes until they are engorged, then they just crawl back to safety virtually unnoticed.
People will not notice while a bed bug is biting them because it is usually painless as it is happening. The bite will turn into itchy welts after a while, but long after the bug has already fed. These itchy welts that their bites leave will appear on areas of the body that are exposed during sleep. The bites do not have a red spot in the middle like, say, flea bites do.
People who are not aware that they have bed bugs may sometimes incorrectly attribute the bites to other insects, like mosquitoes. To confirm or rule out bed bugs, one must find to identify the bed bugs themselves.
What are common signs of bed bug infestation?
If you notice itchy areas on your body that were not there when you went to sleep, you may have a bed bug problem. This is highly probable if you are in a hotel, a home that is not yours, or if you bought used furniture right around the time the bites began to appear. Other signs that may indicate that you have bed bugs are blood stains on your pillowcases or sheets, and dark spots that appear to be excrement on your beddings, mattress, and walls. The presence of egg shells, fecal spots, and shed skins in areas where bed bugs normally hide, and an offensive, musty odor that bed bugs distinctly produce.
What do I do to prevent bringing home bed bugs from a hotel?
To prevent bringing bed bus home from a hotel It is wise to figure out beforehand if a prospective hotel has had problems with bed bugs in the past. There are multiple websites online, like Yelp, that contain customer complaints or reviews that probably have information about the existence of bed bugs in a particular hotel. Be reasonable as well, if the last negative review that includes a complaint about bed bugs was from five years ago, it is possible that that issue has been sorted out.
Try to do research about what bed bugs and their eggs look like so you know what to look for when you get to the hotel.
When you get to your room
Bring your luggage straight into the bathroom. The cold tile makes the bathroom an unlikely place for bed bugs to thrive in.
Inspect your hotel room by doing a quick scan of the bed and any couches or armchairs. Look at the seams and folds of the mattress. Little dark stains could be a sign of bed bugs. In extreme cases, you can even see shells and their white eggs.
Check the headboards because bed bugs can grip and climb bed frames as well. Look at the cracks in the wood because they like to hide in those as well.
If you are able to, pick up a bed bug and put it in a small resealable plastic baggie to take to the front desk to inform them of the situation.
Refrain from placing your suitcase on the floor
Even though you would need to stow away multiple bed bugs or a pregnant female to successfully bring bed bugs into your home, it is worth it to take all of the precautions.
Lessen the probability of taking the bugs with you by inspecting first and avoid placing your suitcase on the floor.
When you get back home
The very first thing you should do is to place all of the clothes exposed to bed bugs in your bag, as well as the ones you wore on the trip home, into the dryer. Place it under a 20-minute heat cycle to kill any bugs that may have hitched a ride with you from the hotel.
As for your luggage, you can use luggage heaters, which were invented specifically to get rid of bed bugs. Unfortunately, they can be quite expensive, so some experts suggest that you put your empty luggage in a car under the sun, especially when it is hot outside. The temperature inside the car can possibly reach 80 degrees which is probably enough to kill the bed bugs on the luggage.
The chances of you bringing home bed bugs from a hotel you stayed in depend on the level of infestation in the said hotel. It also depends on how careful you are at spotting the signs of a bed bug infestation.
Before booking a hotel room, check for online reviews about the hotel and search specifically for mentions of bed bugs.
Once you get to the hotel room, check the bed, headboard, pillows, and sheets for signs of bed bugs and their eggs. If you can put a few bugs in a baggie, do so and show the front desk so you can get a refund or a possible transfer into a new room. Refrain from placing your luggage on the floor.
Once you get home, place all the clothes you took on the trip into the dryer and heat blast it for 20 minutes. Leave your suitcases in the car under the sun to kill any bugs that might have hitched a ride home with you.
Image: istockphoto.com / SementsovaLesia