Bed Bugs: The Souvenir No One Wants To Bring Home

Posted on: 6 May 2015

Did you know that bed bugs have a peak season? June through October are the months in which infestations explode, making Canadians miserable. Unfortunately, bed bugs' summer mating habits coincide with many people's travel plans. This means that, not only could you be afflicted by bed bugs as you hotel hop during vacation, but you also might bring them back home with you. Bed bugs are by far the most difficult pest to eradicate, and because infestations are on the rise, you don't want to bring home this souvenir. Read this article to learn how to avoid doing so. 

Bed bug basics

Bed bugs are tiny insects that feed on the blood of humans and pets. They are difficult to detect, as they burrow inside mattresses, dresser drawers, upholstered furniture, and carpet. They will even make their homes behind baseboards and peeling wallpaper. They are nocturnal; their most active hours are in the middle of the night when people are most deeply asleep. They will crawl up to eight feet to locate a victim by sensing the carbon dioxide exhaled during sleep. Feeding consists of brief (about 10 minute) bloodsucking on any body surface available. At feeding onset, the bugs inject a mild anesthetic, so their victims most often do not know they are being bitten. After feeding, they return to their hiding places and can wait weeks for their next meal.

Signs of bed bug infestation

You will know if bed bugs have bothered you during your vacation from the red bite marks on your body, which may form a zigzag pattern. The bites will itch, but you are not likely to suffer any other physical effects. Some people are allergic to bed bugs and will experience swelling and discomfort from the bites, but bed bugs have not been proven to transmit any diseases.

Bed bugs like to hop rides home with tasty folks in luggage, purses, and clothing. This can happen even if you have not been bitten during your stay. Once home, you will know you have an infestation if you notice the following:

  • new bites on your body

  • brownish-red splotches on your sheets or blankets

  • a smell similar to rotting fruit in your bedroom

  • exoskeletons of the insects on the floor near your bed or headboard

If you're brave-hearted, you can set your alarm for somewhere between 2:00 and 3:00 am, grab a flashlight, and look under your covers. You just might find a troop crawling through your sheets.

Unfortunately, bed bugs are very difficult to eliminate. Because they are so difficult to see, it is hard to tell how many are in your home. Because they are resistant to many pesticides, spraying techniques are often ineffective (as are bug bombs or foggers). Because they can go such a long time without feeding, bed bugs can reemerge after a homeowner thinks they've been destroyed.

Bed bug prevention

How do you keep from bringing bedbugs home from your vacation? Here are some practical tips.

  1. Check your room. After checking in at a hotel, leave your luggage in the car and first conduct a thorough search of your room for bed bugs.

  2. Use the luggage rack. Even if your room does not appear to have bed bugs, don't put your luggage on the floor or bed; place it on the top of the dresser or on the luggage rack for the duration of your stay.

  3. Prepare to launder. Before travelling home, place all items that can be laundered into plastic bags and seal them. When you return home, start the washer and wash everything at the hottest setting the items can withstand.

If, despite your efforts, you find that bed bugs have followed you home, you should enlist the help of a pest control company. Eradicating bed bugs is a complex process, and you will need a professional who knows what methods will work best for your particular circumstances. For instance, heat kills bed bugs, but you can't just turn up your furnace; the kind of heat required must be directed through specialized equipment in order to reach the necessary temperature.

Bed bugs are one souvenir no one wants. Travel smart, and remain vigilant once vacation is over.