According to Bed-Bug.org, bed bugs are attracted both by warmth, and the presence of carbon dioxide, which makes them perfectly at-home in our sleeping areas. Since they’re only about 1/5 of an inch long, and flat, they can hide in electrical outlets, behind wallpaper, around the creases of your mattress, and in bedding materials. Their bites can raise welts and rashes in humans, as well as an intense itching sensation.
Most people think that bed bugs are just attracted to dirty spaces, but that’s simply not true. Even the cleanest home can become a campground for bed bugs, as long as they have a fresh supply of blood to feed on. That being said, if you’re doing a lot of summer traveling, here is some crucial information for avoiding bed bugs, and preventing them from becoming an unwelcome souvenir on the trip home.
- Know how to identify a bed bug. Half of the battle is awareness. If you can recognize a bed bug for what it is, you’ll have a much better chance of leaving the hotel room before they have a chance to invade your luggage. Bed bugs are reddish-brown with a flat oval body. An adult bed bug is about 1/5 of an inch long. Know however, that a bed bug’s colors can vary, becoming nearly white after molting, and ranging from a light tan, to a deep brown, to a burnt orange.
- Identify areas where bed bugs flock. Again, dormitories and hotels are prime locations for bed bugs since so many travelers go in and out. And remember that bed bugs are “bed” bugs for a reason – they congregate where people sleep more than anywhere else, and are frequent residents of the bed frame, mattress, and box spring. Also, watch out for your electronics. The warmth that laptops and other portable electronics produce makes them quite a target for these blood-sucking parasites.
- Check the room before unpacking. If you’re going to a hotel or dormitory, you can prevent these unwelcome travelers by checking around before unpacking. Pull back the sheets and check for tiny blood spots and bugs. You also need to look in the seams of the bedding, as well as the box springs; don’t limit your search to the surface of the bed. Wood and any upholstered furniture should also be closely examined, with special attention to crevices and seams.
- Don’t put your luggage on the bed. If you haven’t had a chance to check thoroughly yet, this will prevent you from carrying them home if the room happens to be infested. Always use the suitcase holder if provided, or leave your luggage in the bathtub, or even the hallway, until you’ve had a chance to take a peek.
- Don’t let them travel home on your clothing. Clothes that may have been infected should be separated into plastic bags and then placed directly in the washing machine on the highest setting that clothes can handle. Undress on a hard surface floor instead of carpeting so that you can wipe the floor and prevent bugs from escaping.
- Inspect your luggage and other personal items before taking them home. Luggage should be vacuumed off, and other items hand washed with hot, soapy water, in the case of an infestation.
- Check used furniture and clothing for bed bugs. If you make any resale purchases, clothing should be washed immediately. Furniture should always be inspected carefully before you bring it home. As a rule, avoid used mattresses.
- Hire a pest control service. You’ll minimize your chances of an infestation if you get your home routinely treated. If you’re a renter, contact your landlord to get a solution implemented.
Being aware of your risk for bed bugs can prevent an infestation. By following these steps whenever you travel, you’ll save yourself the pain and agony of a home bed bug invasion, and the entire cleanup that goes along with it.
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