Bed bugs show up in a multitude of places: hotels, motels, college dorms, etc. The hard truth is, you may not be able to stop them. However, you can be one step ahead of these pests and understand how to detect them and protect yourself. Below we’ve provided some key pointers you can follow to help prevent picking them up and taking them home with you.

First, it’s important to familiarize yourself with what bed bugs, and their eggs, look like so you can easily identify them when you travel. Adult bed bugs are long and brown, with an oval-shaped body. If they have recently fed, they will be more of a reddish-brown and their bodies will be elongated. They are relatively the size of an apple seed (1/4 inch) and have a musty and sweet smell.

Younger bed bugs are smaller and have a yellowish-white color; they can also be translucent. If they have not recently fed, they can appear almost invisible to an untrained eye. Bed bug eggs are small, about the size of a sewing needle head, and they are white in color. Another important factor to familiarize yourself with is the blood (fecal) staining they leave behind. These blood spots can appear as black, red, or brown.

When traveling and staying in a hotel or motel, always check the mattress, box spring, and headboard. It’s important to check as many visual areas around the bed as you can. Once you have confirmed that there is nothing visible, make sure you do not keep your bags on the bed, next to the bed, or on the nightstand for a long period of time. Bed bugs can detect our human odor on us and our personal items. If detected, they can climb in your bag and hitchhike back with you.

We advise you to keep your bags and suitcases in the bathtub, on the bathroom counter, or high up in the closet. We also recommend hanging your clothes in the closet. Bed bugs are not strong climbers, especially on smooth surfaces. This protocol makes it difficult for the bed bugs to get to your personal items within a short period of time.

Secondly, when you come home from a trip or you bring the kiddos home from college, make sure you run every article of clothing through the dryer on high heat for approximately 20 minutes. Bed bugs and eggs will die if exposed to a heat of 118 degrees Fahrenheit or above. If you have luggage or other items that are not able to be put in the dryer, you can treat them with a 50/50 mix of alcohol and water. Additionally, you can use a clothes steamer to kill activity on those items.

Another helpful tip is to visit https://bedbugregistry.com/search/. This is a free public database of sightings in the U.S. and Canada. As of now, there are around 20,000 reports, dating back to 2006. This database will give you a good idea of the hotels and motels that have had bed bugs and what was done about the issue.

Lastly, be wary of places like movie theaters, fitting rooms, and college dorms. These are places where bed bugs can easily fall into a purse, bag, or article of clothing and hitchhike home with you.

While bed bugs don’t reside everywhere you go, it’s important to take precautions like the ones mentioned above to protect yourself from bringing them into your home. Being mindful of them and understanding how to detect them quickly can help put you one step ahead of the curb. If you have questions or concerns about bed bugs in your home, contact T&G Pest Control today!