Spread Joy, Not Bed Bugs this Christmas Season
As much as we anticipate the festive holiday season, it can be a hectic time for those traveling near and far to celebrate with family and friends. This year has pumped the brakes on that typically fast pace as most health agencies recommend people stay home this holiday season to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
For those who are traveling, it’s more important than ever to follow safety measures like wearing masks and regular handwashing. In addition to germs, no one wants to share bed bugs.
If you will be traveling this winter to visit friends or family -- or if loved ones will be traveling to visit you -- there are some other precautions everyone should take to help reduce the spread of bed bugs.
The Basics on Bed Bugs
Bed bugs, which are often spread from household to household during periods of increased travel (like the holidays), may not be nearly as much of a concern this year on account of reduced travel. However, the reality is that anytime you find yourself sleeping in a bed other than your own, whether at a hotel or the home of family or friends, you could pick up a bed bug infestation without even realizing it for weeks or months.
Bed bugs are small, flat bloodsucking parasites that tend to live in the folds and seams of beds and bedding, which keeps them in close proximity to their preferred hosts -- humans. But don’t be too alarmed. Although they do feed off of human blood, bed bugs are considered relatively harmless, as they are not known to spread any diseases. For most people, their bites can be itchy and annoying but not harmful or life-threatening (unless you have a specific allergy to them).
Bed bugs typically spread by hitchhiking rides on luggage, furniture, clothing and other possessions. They do not, however, usually spread from person-to-person contact.
Play it Safe, Skip the Tree?
Despite some popular myths to the contrary, you also cannot bring bed bugs into your home if you choose to decorate with a live Christmas tree (although you could bring as many as 25,000 other insects into your home on one). Although bed bugs can occasionally be found outdoors, their objective is to find hosts (i.e. people) to ride home with.
How do they recognize us humans? From the warmth put off from our bodies as well as the carbon dioxide we exhale. In other words, bed bugs would have no reason whatsoever to be hanging out on a tree.
Whenever you’re sleeping in a bed outside of your own home, there are several precautions you can take to avoid a bedbug infestation. First, inspect the room where you’ll be sleeping, looking closely at all bedding as well as in the creases of furniture. You’re looking for small, quarter-inch long brownish-red dots (those are the adults).
Secondly, keep your suitcase off the floor or bed while out of town (bed bugs won’t “hop” up into any luggage) and unpack immediately when you get home, putting your laundry through the dryer on high heat for at least 30 minutes (this will also kill other pests, like ticks).
If you suspect you have bed bugs, it’s crucial to take care of the problem before you do any traveling, as the likelihood that a few will tagalong with you and infest someone else’s home or hotel room is high.
Although some pest problems might resolve if left alone, bed bugs are not one of them, nor do you want to use up precious time attempting various DIY methods. Bed bugs’ numbers grow every day, making them harder and harder to treat. Calling the pros should always be step number one if you suspect bed bugs.
To learn more about how to find and effectively treat bed bugs, click here to check out our process and schedule a free inspection.