Traveling and hotel stays are a part of the holidays for many families. Especially now with COVID, many families are booking hotel stays for Thanksgiving and holiday visits. Hotels try to keep clean and sanitary; however, bed bugs are persistent guests no matter the hotel’s price point or brand name.
What are bed bugs?
According to the New York State Department of Health:
- Bed bugs are small, flat, wingless insects that are reddish-brown and approximately one-quarter inch long before feeding on blood (about the size and shape of a tiny apple seed). They are not caused by lack of hygiene, and your family pet is not believed to be a factor in their arrival.
- Bites are often itchy, red, and in a line. Topical creams can provide relief.
- Bed bugs hide on beds (mattress seams, box springs, bed frames, headboards) and in cracks and crevices of walls, floors, and furniture during the day. Then, they come out at night.
- Bed bugs do not fly or jump, but they can crawl rapidly. As a result, they can travel between rooms in multi-unit buildings, such as apartment complexes and hotels.
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) all consider bed bugs a public health pest. However, unlike most public health pests, bed bugs are not known to transmit or spread disease.
Bed bug infestation can be rapid, and while you may find them in one bedroom/mattress, they travel via outlets, woodworking, and wallpaper. They are industrious!
Prepare for bed bugs before you leave
Savvy and frequent travelers are wary of the cleanliness of hotels and often prepare in advance for hotel stays. One tip offered by road warriors is to check online reviews. While not 100% reliable, customers will post a warning review if they have experienced bedbugs. Hotels are susceptible to bed bug infestations, and it does not necessarily equate to uncleanliness or unsanitary conditions. To hedge your bet, pack your luggage by keeping clothes inside tightly sealed bags mitigating your chance of a ‘hitchhiker.”
How to check for bed bugs in your hotel room
We know what you are thinking…that we may be a bit on the side of paranoia, but not really. Consumer Reports shares a great list of Tips for Traveling Without Bed Bugs:
- When you first enter a new hotel room, put your luggage on a luggage rack or in the bathroom—an unlikely place for bed bugs to hide—while you inspect the bedding and furniture.
- Pull back the bedsheets and blankets and check the mattress and box-spring seams for bugs, especially at the head of the bed. Adults, nymphs, and eggs are visible to the naked eye. Also, please keep your eyes peeled for exoskeletons (casings that the bugs leave behind when they molt) and dark, rust-colored spots. You can also lift the mattress and check underneath too, using a flashlight if possible.
- Consider checking upholstered furniture, too, says Potter. “If I’m traveling, I’ll take a quick look at a couch or recliner, if there is one—at the seams and the head and neck area.” If you see any telltale signs, tell hotel staff, and ask for a new room, preferably in another part of the building.
- Stow your suitcases, zipped closed, on a luggage rack or a hard surface for the length of your stay. You can also pack large plastic trash bags and keep your luggage in them during your time in the hotel. “The other thing I do is try not to spread my stuff all over the room,” says Potter. “If there happen to be bugs, they sometimes will get into things, and the more stuff you have around, the higher the probability of that.”
- When you get home, if you have any concerns that you’ve brought home a stray hitchhiker or two, tumble your travel clothes in a hot dryer for up to 30 minutes. (The heat will kill bed bugs, but simply washing the clothes usually won’t.)
Beg bug safeguards after traveling
The best thing to do is to act proactively, and some of these tips are probably things you already do anyway.
- Inspect your luggage in the garage! Look for dark spots or live bugs before bringing the luggage inside your home. If you are traveling with children, take a look at their backpacks. Kids tend to leave these on the hotel room floor.
- Wash all your clothes immediately. The experts suggest high temperatures, but we all know some of your favorites cannot be washed in hot water. So instead, store these items in the garage in tightly sealed garbage bags.
- Clean your luggage using rubbing alcohol and a vacuum before storing the bags until the next trip.
How do I get rid of bed bugs?
At Accurate Pest Control, we begin with a full inspection confirming the infestation of bed bugs and the scope of their activity. We do this to rule out a misreported flea or tick infestation (we can take care of that, too!). Next, we provide prep sheets that must be followed before the arrival of our technicians. While time-consuming on both our end and the customer, it ensures success in removing and treating the bed bugs. As the population grows, the bed bugs will spread throughout the home, and if it is in an apartment, it could spread to other units.
- Don’t panic and start throwing things away.
- Please don’t take matters into your own hands.
- Contact a professional
Contact us to learn more or if you think you may have bed bugs. We can help. We will remove the bed bugs, offer suggestions, aid in cleaning the space and deliver follow-up services as required. We want you to be safe and healthy and return you and your family to a peaceful and restful sleep.
Resources: Consumer Reports