By Glenn Olesuk,
Entomologist and Owner, Graduate Pest Solutions
You arrive at your hotel room after a long day of traveling and wearily slip between the sheets of your hotel room’s bed. You wake refreshed and ready for another day. While performing your morning ritual, you look in the mirror noticing a line of red spots along your waist. They begin to itch, so you scratch. They get redder as you scratch and itch and you begin to wonder … what could this be?
This scenario is becoming more and more prevalent to business and family travelers. Don’t rule it out after a visit from family or friends!
We’re talking about the unwanted, hitchhiking, and blood-sucking parasite known as the Bed Bug. Bed Bugs are flat, reddish-brown insects that thrive on human blood. They are about the size of an apple seed and have an oval shape.
The reason they are called Bed Bugs is because—like people—they do not want to work any harder than necessary to survive and thrive. They live as close as possible to their blood meal (the host) and feed when they are least likely to be swatted or crushed (while you are in bed, asleep).
Bed Bugs acquired a taste for humans when they first sought shelter in caves. Scientists believe that they were already present surviving and thriving on bats and other mammals. Today they are comfortable resting and feeding on human beings in our own homes. Bed frames, head boards, adjoining furniture, couches and yes, our beloved recliners, are all fair game.
Even though Bed Bugs are piercing our skin and damaging blood vessels, they do not transmit diseases. Some people can have severe reactions to the bites, but unlike other insects—such as ticks, which can transmit lime disease—there is no evidence linking Bed Bug bites to outside illnesses.
However, they are extremely difficult to eradicate, so travelers beware. The cost can run into the thousands of dollars (no, that’s not a misprint!) and extreme cases can require even more. An effective treatment requires a minimum of two people to disassemble bed frames, move and flip mattresses, box springs, and other furniture. Additionally, it usually takes a minimum of three treatments over three months.
So what can we do to prevent the possibility of bringing Bed Bugs home with us while traveling? Graduate Pest Solutions suggests the following travel tips:
- When you first arrive at your hotel, pull back the sheets and check the mattress seams, particularly at the top corners. If you see insects, small dark spots (digested dried blood) or anything suspicious, notify the hotel change rooms and/or hotels immediately.
- Check around the room before unpacking. Inspect the head board, couches, chairs etc. If you see any of the previous warning signs, react accordingly.
- Upon returning home, check your suit cases before bringing them into the house. Vacuum them thoroughly and wash the clothes that you brought while traveling.
Bed Bugs do not reflect an unclean home or—for that matter—hotel. All these bugs need is a host and proper temperature to survive. They are equally happy living with Martha Stewart as they would with your child’s college room mate. They are hitchhikers and can be brought into your home on luggage or on your child’s school backpack. If you suspect something unusual, check your home as described above and call a professional pest management company. These bugs can not be abated with do-it-yourself products.
Business travel is necessary, and enjoying family, friends and traveling is one of the great pleasures in life. Bed Begs are no reason to change our plans so…travel a little wiser, sleep tight … and don’t let the Bed Bugs bite!
Glenn Olesuk is the owner of Graduate Pest Solutions in Hampden, MA. He is a degreed entomologist from the Syracuse School of Forestry and has thirty years experience in residential and commercial pest control. You can reach Glenn and Graduate Pest Solutions at 413-566-8222.