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Thursday, August 8, 2013

What You Should Know About Bed Bugs Before Traveling

The spring and summer seasons are peak seasons for traveling and vacationing. For some individuals, traveling brings on a sense of fear and paranoia. This is because in the last several years, there have been many stories circulating in the news and media about bed bugs in hotels, condos, etc. While bed bugs have been around for centuries, people are becoming more aware of the little pests, which then cause a wave of paranoia. Those that have encountered bed bugs before have a reason to be paranoid, and will tell you that dealing and getting rid of them is the worst experience you could possibly imagine. However, you shouldn’t let the fear of them ruin what is supposed to be a fun and relaxing vacation. If you have never before encountered bed bugs, here are a few things you should know:

What exactly are bed bugs?

Bed bugs are parasitic insects that feed on human blood. They are often confused with dust mites, microscopic insects that live within bedding, furniture and carpeting and feed off of the dead skin cells from humans and animals. Dust mites do not directly affect humans; however, it is common for individuals to be allergic to their waste, causing cold-like symptoms. Bed bugs, on the other hand, are much larger (four to five millimeters) and directly feed off humans, often causing itchy, burning bite marks, similar to mosquito bites. They also tend to make their nests several feet away from bedding, such as behind head boards, underneath beds, in crevices and corners, etc. Like ants, they tend to travel in large quantities, and you rarely ever find a singular bed bug, which is why people suffer many bites at one time.

Where do they come from?

Hotels are not the only places that can become infested with bed bugs. They can live in offices, movie theaters, other people’s homes, anywhere, really. They are typically transferred from location to location through clothing, blankets, or other fabric materials. The eggs are adhesive and stick to clothing and their white, translucent color make them difficult to spot. The eggs can withstand a wide range of environments, and once they hatch, they find places to nest and proceed to lay eggs of their own.  

What you should do when traveling:

Upon arriving to a hotel, immediately check for bed bugs. Pull the covers on the bed back to look for reddish, brown spots on the sheets. These spots are the bed bugs’ fecal matter. When wet, they can look like dry blood stains. Also check behind headboards, in corners, nightstands, anywhere else near the bed for nests and eggs. If there are signs of bedbugs in the hotel room, inform the hotel employees. Just because there are bed bugs in one room does not mean they are in all of the rooms, so you can simply switch to another room in the hotel, rather than leaving.

If there are no signs of bed bugs apparent, there are steps you can take to be cautious. Do not put your luggage or clothing on the bed or floor. Immediately place luggage on the luggage stands provided, away from walls, and hang up the clothing in the closet(s) provided. If there is no luggage stand available, keep your luggage in the bathroom.

When returning from a trip, immediately put all clothes in the dryer or wash them with hot water. This will kill any eggs, or bed bugs that have potentially clung to clothing.

Bed bug prevention:

There are products available that will get rid of bed bugs or prevent an infestation from occurring. Individuals can place bed bug covers on mattresses, box springs and pillows in order to keep bed bugs from getting into them. To get rid of bed bugs and their eggs, individuals can use UV sanitizing wands. The wands use UV light in order to kill the insects, as well as their larvae. A UV wand might be a great item to bring with on a trip or vacation for anyone that is afraid their hotel may be infested with bed bugs. The wand is simply waved over the bedding, or any other surfaces, for ten seconds at a time, and will kill not just bed bugs, but dust mites, germs and bacteria, as well.

If a home does become infested with bed bugs, professional help is needed.

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