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How to prevent bed bugs when traveling

The holiday travel season is upon us. Whether you’re planning on a trip over the holidays or you’ve got kids coming home from college, the last thing you want to encounter during the busy holiday season is a bed bug problem.

Woman holding her luggage in the airport

Bed bugs are hitchhiking pests, which travel to new places on humans and their belongings. Once thought of as a problem for hotels, bed bug infestations have now been discovered in other public areas such as libraries, public transportation, movie theaters, retail stores, professional offices, and colleges and elementary schools.  

Adult bed bugs are visible to the human eye and approximately ¼-inch long by 1/8-inch wide – about the size of an apple seed. Adults are typically brown or reddish-brown in color; bed bug nymphs may be lighter or translucent. 

Bed bug walking

As bed bugs increase, so do the chances of them making their way into your home. A bed bug infestation can be costly to eliminate and can even involve discarding furniture! Our expert, entomologist Judy Black, offers these tips for reducing the risk of bed bugs coming to your home for the holidays.

How to prevent bed bugs in hotels

  • Place your luggage on non-upholstered furniture away from the bed, such as a desk. If using a luggage rack, inspect it for bed bugs.

  • Pull back the corners of bedding on the bed and check the mattress and box spring for bed bugs or signs of bed bugs. Pay special attention to seams, where bed bugs like to hide. If you notice black marks on the mattress, that could be an indication of a problem.

  • Inspect the night stand for signs of bed bugs.

How to prevent bed bugs after you travel

  • Immediately inspect your suitcase for signs of bed bugs when you return home. Place all your clothing from the baggage in the clothes dryer for 15 minutes on high heat, even if you didn’t wear them. This can kill any bed bugs that may have snuck into your luggage.

How to prevent your guests from bringing bed bugs in your home

  • College kids coming home? Tell them to inspect any belongings they are bringing home for signs of bed bugs first, especially if there has been a documented bed bug problem in their dormitory or apartment.

  • Remember that any guests can inadvertently bring bed bugs into your home. It’s a good idea to perform an inspection of sleep areas after you’ve had visitors.

If you suspect you may have a bed bug issue, Ehrlich is here to help. We’ve got years of experience resolving bed bug problems. Call us immediately at 866-844-7974.

How to identify a bed bug

  • Adult bed bugs are approximately 1/4-inch long by 1/8-inch wide – they are often compared to the size of an apple seed.

  • Adult bed bugs are reddish-brown in color; after a blood meal, they may be redder.

  • Young bed bugs, or nymphs, are visible but hard to see. They can be as small as 1/32-inch.

  • Bed bug eggs are very hard to see with the naked eye. They are white, have a pearly sheen, and are found clustered together.

  • Bed bugs are expert crawlers.

Spot signs of bed bug activity

If you notice any of these signs or symptoms of bed bug activity, inform hotel staff, apartment manager, or college housing director immediately.

  • Watch for unexplained bites or welts that seem to appear overnight.

  • Bed bugs leave behind tell-tale fecal smears that may look like marker stains. These may be present on mattresses or other upholstered furniture, and in severe infestations, on other surfaces.

  • Young bed bugs molt, leaving behind cast skins.

  • The presence of live or dead bed bugs should be immediate cause for concern.

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