In the height of summer, vacation is always a topic on the forefront of everyone’s mind. While we all may be thinking about is a relaxing week at the beach or just some down time with the family, there could be something a little more sinister lurking in your hotel room.
Bed bugs, although they were not as common in the U.S. before the 2000’s, have reemerged and now seem to be everywhere. While most infestations take place in hotels/motels, bed bugs can also be found in apartment buildings, houses, and cars. However prevalent they may be, bed bugs can be avoided if a person knows what to look for.
What is a bed bug
Bed bugs, or Cimex lectularius, get their name from the fact that they tend to live in and around beds. They are small (less than a ¼ inch), oval, flat, and range from dark brown to red in color. While they can feed on any mammal, humans are the most common. Attracted by the carbon dioxide we give off when we sleep and our lack of movement, bed bugs tend to bite people while they sleep, and can live up to a year on one feeding.
Their Bark is Worse than Their Bite
While there is a lot of hype about bed bugs, it is important to know that they do not carry diseases and, in most cases, are no more than a pest. When the bed bug bites, it numbs the area so a person doesn’t feel it immediately. That being said, everyone reacts differently. Some people are not allergic to the bite and may never even develop a mark. However, those who are affected may notice it right when they wake up or up to 14 days later. Normally, the bite is small and itchy, similar to a mosquito bite, but in extreme cases a person may have a more severe reaction.
What to look for:
If you want to avoid bed bugs it is important to know what to look for to ensure that you don’t carry them with you. Bed bugs hide in suit cases and clothes, so they can be easily transported from one place to another.
- When you get to your destination, the most important thing to do is to look for bed bugs BEFORE you unpack. The most common place in hotels is behind the head board that is attached to the wall, but mattresses, sheets, sofas, and upholstery are other common habitats. It is important to know that bed bugs really can be anywhere, even five star hotels.
- Look for red and brown splotches on the mattress, bedding or walls because it is an indication that the bugs are there.
- Also check to see if there are any shells or eggs. A female bed bug can lay up to 200 eggs in her life, so be on the lookout.
If there is an Infestation:
If you are at a hotel:
- The first thing you need to do is alert the hotel manager that you have found bed bugs and request a change in rooms. If possible, you do not want a room adjacent to the infestation because the bugs may have spread through housekeeping carts.
- Make sure that you inspect your suit case and belongings to see if there are any bugs.
If you are at home:
- Try and locate where the bugs are coming from; they could be anywhere in a room from the mattress to the window.
- Vacuum and steam the area to get rid of remaining bugs and eggs.
- Wash all clothes and linens in hot water. For non washable items, put them in the dryer for around 10 minutes. This will kill any remaining bugs and eggs.
- Contact your local pest control service because bed bugs can be extremely difficult to get rid of.
If you are experiencing a bed bug infestation in your home, be sure to visit our residential bed bugs page.