When planning what you want to bring with you on your summer vacation this year, don’t forget what you don’t want to bring back: bed bugs. The common bed bug had almost disappeared in the United States, but has made a strong comeback over the past decade. To help raise awareness, the Professional Pest Management Alliance, the public outreach arm of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), has designated the week of June 4 as Bed Bug Awareness Week.
Bed bugs can lurk in the highest quality hotels as well as the transportation you take to get there and back – including planes, trains and automobiles. But a few simple steps offered by the NPMA can help you enjoy your vacation without bringing this unwanted pest back home with you:
- At your hotel or rental, thoroughly inspect the entire room before unpacking, including behind the headboard and in furniture. Pull back the bed sheets and check the mattress seams for pepper-like stains that may be evidence of bed bug activity.
- Set your luggage away from walls and never place it on the bed. Use a large plastic trash bag or a protective cover to store suitcases during your stay.
- Immediately notify management of any signs of bed bugs and ask for a new room. Ensure the new room is not adjacent to and/or directly above/below the original room. Bed bugs can easily hitchhike via housekeeping carts, luggage and even through wall sockets.
- Upon returning home, inspect and vacuum your suitcases thoroughly before bringing them into the house. Consider using a garment hand steamer to steam your luggage, which will kill any bed bugs.
- Dry all fabric items (even those that have not been worn) in a hot dryer for at least 30 minutes to ensure that any bed bugs that may have made it that far are not placed into your drawers/closet.
What to look for
Adult bed bugs are:
- Just under 1/4" long
- Relatively flat
- Nearly as wide as they are long
- Brown to reddish-brown in color
- Besides seeing bed bugs themselves, signs of an infestation include:
- Translucent or light colored cast skins or shells from nymphs that have molted
- Tiny white bed bug eggs. These may be as large as grains of rice or as small as bits of dandruff
- Black fecal spots, often found in groups of 10 or more where there is a large infestation
- Small brown or red spots on bed linens or mattress
- If you have bed bugs, you may wake up with reddish bite marks or welts that itch, but this isn’t absolute proof that you have a bed bug infestation. You may have been bitten elsewhere without bringing bed bugs home.
Finding and treating the problem
- If you suspect a bed bug infestation, call us immediately. Bed bugs can be a challenge for people to find, which is why we have “Team Bugsy,” a specially trained canine detection team. Bed bugs have a signature scent that dogs can detect with up to 97 percent accuracy, so if you’re not sure you have them, our furry team can help.
- If you do have bed bugs, we offer two types of treatment – insecticide application and heat remediation – and will talk with you about which we recommend based on your particular situation.