December 16, 2021 / Bed Bugs

Traveling for the Holidays? Tips to Avoid Bed Bugs

A Santa hat and miniature airplane resting on top of a red suitcase

Did you know that there was a serious jump in travel on the Fourth of July 2021 to the tune of a whopping 164% increase over the previous year? Proof that the pandemic and all its lockdowns left us all feeling rather stir crazy and eager to explore the world again. 

Well, a similar surge in travelers is expected this winter holiday season. In light of the international travel ban recently lifted, it’s fair to assume these open doors will bring family and friends from near and far. 

Exciting news, sure, but also troubling for those of us in the pest management industry. We know that upticks in travel are often accompanied by increased populations of the dreaded and resilient bed bug. 

If you and your family are making plans to visit family this Christmas, make a great trip a spectacular one by knowing how to watch out for bed bugs, including those signs you need to be aware of when staying in hotels, and even other people's houses.

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A Quick Breakdown on Bed Bugs 

Before you panic or consider canceling your plans, empower yourself with the information you need to identify bed bugs or signs that bed bugs are on the premises. Bed bugs are clever travelers themselves. Fans of hitchhiking, they will bum a ride with anyone or on anything. 

If your hotel room or rental house is suffering from the bane of bed bugs, knowing where they came from can help you avoid, treat, and prevent them in the future. 

How do bed bugs get into your house or hotel room in the first place? 

The causes are varied, and perhaps not surprising: 

  • Bed bugs often get around via luggage, making it possible for them to find new hosts just by changing hotels, catching a flight, or accompanying you on a visit to relatives.
  • Your guests might bring bed bugs into your home in their bags and/or belongings. 
  • Infested bedding, whether at a hotel, motel or other guest accommodation.
  • Used furniture, such as one you simply sat in in the hotel lobby or café, or even a piece you purchased from a secondhand shop to bring home with you.

Understanding the potential causes of a bed bug infestation is one thing; recognizing the signs is another entirely. How can you spot a bed bug problem?

Spot is the operative word. For instance, you might discover: 

  • Small, diamond-shaped, rust-like spots on your sheets, pillowcases, or blankets, which is indicative of bed bug excrement.
  • Blood stains on bed linens
  • Shed skin, tiny eggshells, or fecal matter
  • A musty smell resulting from the bed bugs’ scent glands

If you do spot any of these signs, you will want to check the bed bug’s popular hiding places, specifically box springs, mattresses, bed frames, and headboards. 

Don’t Let those Bed Bugs Bite

If you somehow missed the signs of a bed bug infestation before turning in for the night, rest assured, there will be new hints of their presence by morning. Bed bugs feed on blood from animals and humans and can leave a nasty bite mark. These bites typically come in numbers and can be found on places like the neck, arms, hands, and face -- any place where the skin was exposed while sleeping. 

Depending on the individual victim, it may be tricky to identify the bites as bed bug bites. This is because everyone reacts differently, ranging from no reaction at all to (in rare instances) an emergency trip to the ER if you’re among the unlucky few who are allergic to them. Typically, they’ll resemble mosquito bites for most individuals, and will likely be just as itchy. Luckily, they carry no threat of pathogens that can make you sick.

Furthermore, the size of the infestation plays a major role in determining how easy it is to identify that you have a problem in the first place. Naturally, the larger the infestation, the more bites, blood, fecal matter, and catskins will accompany them; therefore making it more difficult for them to hide from their observant (and likely very itchy) hosts.

Bed Bug Avoidance 101

If you are the host(ess) with the most for your relatives this year, you’ll want to perform a thorough inspection before your guests arrive, as well as immediately after they leave. As an extra precaution, stick all bedding in the dryer to kill off any strays, and vacuum the area around the bed. If you do end up finding bed bugs, then it is best to leave effective remediation to the pros. 

The holidays can be hectic enough. Don’t let bed bugs become the bane of your existence. We offer expert bed bug removal services and are standing by to answer your call, no matter the season.

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