The holidays are a time for celebration, gift-giving and visiting with family and friends. Travel wisely this winter to ensure that you do not bring any unwanted visitors, such as bed bugs, back home with you.
Once thought to be a thing of the past, bed bug populations have increased by approximately 500 percent in the United States in recent years, according to Congress’ “Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite” Act of 2009. Bed bugs spread by hitching a ride on travelers’ possessions, and with our highly mobile society, bed bugs have been able to spread quickly across the United States. This makes it important for travelers to educate themselves on bed bugs. Becoming familiar with the bug, its habits and methods of detecting, treating and preventing an infestation is an essential and effective first step.
The facts on bed bugs:
Identification: Bed bugs are easily identifiable if you know what you are looking for. They are small, but still large enough to see. These pests are flat, oval and wingless, with antennae and six legs. Adults are 5 millimeters long, about the same size and color of an apple seed. Eggs are the size of a pin head,colorless and incredibly hard to see.
What attracts bed bugs: Bed bugs are attracted to warmth and carbon dioxide from people and animals. They feed at night for about five minutes every three to seven days. Bed bugs usually reside within five feet of a food source, but can travel up to 100 feet to find a meal.
Lifespan: A bed bug will live for approximately three to nine months if well fed, but can survive for six months or more without feeding. Females can lay as many as five eggs per day – or up to 200 in their lifetime.
Travel lightly and do not bring your own bedding or pillows when visiting a hotel. Take a few minutes upon arrival to inspect your surroundings. Here is a list of recommendations on the way to inspect your accommodation before settling in for the night.
When entering a hotel room:
1. Place all of your belongings in the bathroom or on a tile surface.
2. Exhale gently across the top and sides of the headboard.
3. Pull back the bedding at both top corners of the bed to expose the mattress.
4. Using your flashlight, inspect the rolled seams at the top and bottom edges of the mattress at each corner, looking for bed bugs, spotting or cast skins.
5. Lift the mattress enough to observe the top corner of the box spring looking for the same signs of bugs as you did on the mattress.
6. Look at the edge of the carpet and baseboard under the corners of the bed to inspect for spotting and cast skins. Put the corners back together.
7. Using your flashlight, inspect the top and edges of the headboard looking for any bed bugs that might have come out to investigate the carbon dioxide from your breath, and continue checking back throughout the inspection process.
8. Using your flashlight, inspect the skirting along the bottom of the bed, looking for bed bugs, spotting and cast skins within the inside folds of the fabric.
9. If there is a nightstand next to the bed, turn it upside down and inspect the back and bottom of the unit paying close attention to bed bugs or eggs that might have been laid in the heads of screws or other openings in the wood.
10. Inspect the portable luggage rack looking for signs of bed bugs.
11. If the luggage rack is attached to the wall, inspect closely the intersections of any wood/fabric joints or cracks along the wall.
When you return:
Upon return from travel, place all items that may have been exposed (including suitcase when possible) into the dryer, and place on high heat for 15 minutes.
With just a little preparation and some caution, holiday travel can be relaxing and you can rest assured that you will return home without any uninvited pests. For more information on bed bugs, visit www.orthokillsbedbugs.com.