Bed bugs outrank even my fear of Covid-19 transmission when traveling and staying in a hotel. As an employee of Gregory’s Pest Control, a family-owned pest control company in Coral Springs and Weston Florida, you might wonder why my fear is so strong. There are multiple answers to this but primarily it is because there is no mask or vaccine that will eliminate these blood-sucking pests and they are not always easy to identify prior to getting exposed to them. This fear of having nocturnal pests crawl onto my skin and onto my children in order to suck their blood, leaving behind itchy bites, freaks me out. As a result, anytime I travel I always google posts about bed bug identification even though I have looked them up a hundred times before. And like a good bed bug detective, I set about inspecting the room following the basic guidelines.
Common tips for inspecting for bed bugs when traveling:
- 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. Do this when you first enter a new hotel room to ensure that your luggage doesn’t pick up any unwanted hitchhikers.
- 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 keep your eyes peeled for exoskeletons (casings that the bugs leave behind when they molt) and dark, rust-colored spots. These rust-colored spots indicate a crushed bed bug that had blood inside from a recent host. You can also lift the mattress and check underneath, too, using a flashlight if possible.
- Be certain to check upholstered furniture as well. Even though bed bugs are named after the area they are most likely to be found they also find their way to places they can hide and easily locate a host. Many people sleep on couches or use the pull-out couch. Check at the seams and the head and neck area of the furniture. If you see any telltale signs, tell hotel staff and ask for a new room, preferably in another part of the building. I actually prefer to ask for a refund as I know how quickly bed bugs spread and how difficult it is to get rid of them. If a hotel room has them then chances are the bugs could easily have crawled, or hitched rides, to other areas of the hotel.
- 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. Try not to spread your stuff all over the room so as to reduce the risk of any bed bugs crawling into your items.
- 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.)
Frequently Asked Questions about Bed Bugs
Does Self-Inspection for Bed Bugs Work?
I can personally attest to the fact that taking precautions does actually work as I recently discovered bed bugs in a hotel where my children and I had stayed recently during spring break. I followed all the above tips and found bed bugs crawling on the upholstered pull-out couch. I took pictures, promptly removed my children, went to the front desk, and requested a refund, which I was given. I then went to another hotel, followed the above tips, placed all the clothes the kids were wearing into the dryer, and stayed up after the lights were off, periodically checking with a flashlight to see if any bed bugs happen to also be in our new lodging. Much to my relief, our close encounter seemed to be at an end.
While the self-inspection does work it is not always a guarantee that everyone is so lucky to actually detect them. Many who end up with bed bugs in their own homes often ask us at Gregory’s Pest Control questions like My house is clean so why do I have bed bugs? What do bed bugs actually look like? What do bed bug bites look like? Do bed bugs pose a threat of disease to me or my children? Where do bed bugs actually come from? How do I get rid of bed bugs once inside? Can I get rid of bed bugs on my own? How much does it cost to have a professional pest control company treat my home for bed bugs? Let’s take a look at each question separately.
My house is clean so why do I have bed bugs?
Bed bugs are not attracted to dirt and grime; they are attracted to warmth, blood, and carbon dioxide. However, houses and rooms full of clutter offer bed bugs more hiding places.
What do bed bugs actually look like?
WebMD describes bedbugs as small, oval, brownish insects that live on the blood of animals or humans. Adult bed bugs have flat bodies about the size of an apple seed. After feeding, however, their bodies swell and are a reddish color.
What do bed bug bites look like?
Bedbugs are active mainly at night. They locate their hosts because they can detect carbon dioxide in the air. They have small antennae that then detect heat and can locate an area on your skin where blood is closest to the surface.
The bite itself is painless and usually goes undetected at the time because bed bugs inject an anesthetic to create a numbing effect as they feed. They also inject an anticoagulant (a blood thinner) when they bite in order to allow the blood to flow freely as they suck. Because feeding usually takes 5-10 minutes, this anesthetic-like compound allows the bed bugs to easily feed uninterrupted which is why they also typically bite while people are sleeping.
While painless initially, these bites later turn into itchy welts. Sometimes they are mistaken as flea bites but unlike flea bites that are mainly around the ankles, bedbug bites are on any area of skin exposed while sleeping. Also, the bites do not have a red spot in the center like flea bites do.
Do bed bugs pose a threat of disease to me or my children?
Unlike mosquitoes and ticks, bed bugs are not known to transmit disease to humans. While some pathogens have been detected in and on bedbugs – including hepatitis B, bed bugs have NOT been associated with disease transmission. Nor have bed bugs been confirmed to cause methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
Where do bed bugs actually come from?
Bed bugs have been around for thousands of years. Scientists have fossilized bugs that are more than 3,500 years old. Entomologists believe they originated in the Middle East where they resided in caves utilized by both bats and humans which provided them, adequate hosts.
How do I get rid of bed bugs once inside?
There are certainly DIY methods of getting rid of bed bugs but they require a very extensive and thorough amount of effort that takes hours of time, research, patience, and money. Please reference this link for a complete DIY bed bug treatment strategy. If taking the risk to try and eliminate bed bugs on your own is not the route you choose to take then I highly recommend finding a trusted and locally operated pest control company such as Gregory’s Pest Control who can guarantee you the elimination of these creepy pests. Finally, when it comes to controlling bedbugs this is definitely a challenging case of “do it yourself” as bed bugs are notoriously difficult to eradicate. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that victims of bed bug infestations contact their landlord or an experienced pest management company. Professional pest control companies are better equipped to deal with bed bugs and understand the safest methods to utilize without causing harm to your family, pets, or other areas of the environment.
How much does it cost to have a professional pest control company treat my home for bed bugs?
The cost of controlling any pest invasion depends on the severity of infestation. With bed bugs, the cost can range from $200 to over $1200. Finding a local and well-trusted bed bug extermination company that you know will offer you the highest quality of service while charging fair rates is essential. This is why so many residents in Weston, Coral Springs, and the surrounding areas choose Gregory’s Pest Control. They are a 5-star google reviewed company that is family-owned and operated with over 30 years of trusted service in their community.