As you plan your summer getaway, it's essential to be aware of the increased risk of bed bugs during this time. While bed bugs can be found year-round, they are more prevalent in warmer months when people tend to travel more frequently. To ensure a pleasant and bed bug-free vacation, here's a guide to help you identify the warning signs of bed bugs, where to look for them in a hotel room, and how to avoid bringing bed bugs home.
Why are bed bugs worse in the summer?
Although bed bugs are active year-round, there are a few factors that contribute to an increase in bed bug activity during the summer months, including:
- Increased domestic and foreign travel
- Higher occupancy levels/frequent turnover of hotels and other commercial lodgings
- Faster reproduction in higher temperatures
Bed bugs are small, reddish-brown insects that feed on human blood. They are nocturnal pests and hide during the day. In addition to keeping an eye out for live insects crawling on headboards, upholstered furniture, and even behind wall hangings or inside outlets, you should look for the following signs of bed bugs:
- Bites & skin irritation
Bed bug bites often appear as itchy, red welts on exposed skin. These bites usually occur in a linear or clustered pattern.
- Bloodstains on sheets
After feeding, bed bugs may leave behind tiny bloodstains on the bedding or pillowcases.
- Dark stains on mattress, box spring, or furniture
As bed bugs digest blood, they may leave behind dark stains or smears on the mattress or nearby furniture.
- Musty odor
In the case of severe bed bug infestations, an unpleasant, sweet, musty odor may be present.
Where to look for bed bugs in a hotel room
When you arrive at your hotel room, it's essential to complete your own bed bug inspection before you settle in. Begin by storing your luggage in the bathtub or have your travel companion remain in the hallway with bags until you’re sure the room is free of these biting pests. DO NOT set anything on the bed or upholstered furniture before an inspection has been performed. With the help of your smartphone’s flashlight, focus your inspection on these key areas:
- Mattresses & box springs
Pull back sheets and lift the mattress to examine the seams, corners, and edges. Look for live bed bugs, dark stains, or shed exoskeletons.
- Bed linens
Inspect the sheets, pillowcases, and blankets for bloodstains and fecal spots (small black dots).
- Headboards & bed frames
Carefully examine the headboards, bed frames, and any upholstered furniture near the bed. Look for visible bed bugs, eggs, or dark stains.
- Furniture & carpet
Check other furniture in the room, such as chairs, sofas, and nightstands. Inspect the crevices, seams, and underneath furniture. Bed bugs can also hide in carpets and rugs, so be sure to check the area where wall meets carpeting as that is a favorite hiding spot.
- Luggage rack & drawers
Inspect the luggage rack for any signs of bed bugs. Also check the bureau/drawers thoroughly, paying attention to corners.
- Cracks & crevices
Bed bugs can hide in tiny cracks and crevices. Use a flashlight to inspect areas like baseboards, electrical outlets, picture frames, and wallpaper.
If you find signs of bed bugs, notify the hotel staff immediately and request a room change, or if you’re not comfortable staying on site, ask for help finding new accommodations.
Bed bug prevention tips for summer travelers
To minimize the risk of encountering bed bugs during your summer getaway, follow these preventive measures:
- Pack smart
When packing, use hard-sided luggage, if possible, as it's more difficult for bed bugs to penetrate. Consider using bed bug-proof luggage liners or sealed plastic bags for added protection.
- Choose accommodations wisely
Before booking a hotel, read reviews and check for any reports of bed bug infestations. Opt for reputable establishments that have a proactive approach to bed bug control.
- Keep luggage elevated and work out of your suitcase
While in your hotel room, store your luggage on a luggage rack (after it’s been inspected, of course) or a hard surface. Avoid placing it on the bed or carpeted floor. We also recommend keeping your clothes in your suitcase rather than the drawers provided by the accommodation. Keep your suitcase closed when not pulling items from it.
- Continue to check your hotel room for signs of bed bugs
Even if you didn’t see anything suspicious during your initial inspection, remain vigilant and especially keep an eye out for blood stains and bed bug bites each morning.
How do you make sure you don’t bring bed bugs home after a summer getaway?
If you're concerned about bed bugs after returning from vacation, there are several precautions you can take to minimize the risk and ensure that your home remains free of these pests. Here's what you can do:
- Carefully inspect your luggage OUTSIDE for any signs of bed bugs including live bugs, eggs, exoskeletons, or even blood or dark stains on clothes. Pay close attention to seams, pockets, and other areas bed bugs might easily tuck away.
- Take your clothing straight to the washing machine and wash immediately on the hottest water the fabric can handle, followed by a hot run in the dryer. DO NOT bring clothes indoors and leave on the floor or in the hamper. Keep them outside or even on the garage floor until they can go into the washing machine.
- Vacuum and wipe down your luggage once you’ve emptied it of its contents and inspected for bed bug activity. Be sure to dispose of the vacuum bag outside.
- Monitor for signs of bed bugs in the days and weeks following your vacation. Watch for live bed bugs as well as the other signs we mentioned above. You should check beds, furniture, and other areas where bed bugs could hide. If you see anything concerning, contact a pest control company right away!
For bed bug control in Phoenix, Tucson, or Southern Arizona, Northwest Exterminating can help!
To get rid of bed bugs that have infested properties in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tucson, and elsewhere in Southern AZ, Northwest Exterminating has developed Northwest Sleeptight- a bed bug control program engineered to provide customers with peace of mind. Our bed bug treatments are so effective because we not only understand basic bed bug biology, but we know the proper way to inspect for bed bugs and what treatment protocols to implement to ensure a successful outcome!
To learn more about our bed bug heat treatments and our bed bug warranty, please reach out today!
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