Bed Bugs Are Traveling This Thanksgiving

Despite fear of pests, the majority of Americans are not checking for bed bugs

As travel peaks this Thanksgiving, holiday travelers have one more thing to worry about catching besides flights—bed bugs. Atlanta-based pest control leader Orkin conducted a recent Omnibus survey and found that, despite nationwide media coverage of increased bed bug activity, only a third of respondents (33 percent) check for bed bugs at their travel destinations, and only 26 percent of respondents routinely conduct an inspection when they return home from traveling.

While 63 percent of people dislike bed bugs because they fear being bitten*, 62 percent do not check for them when they return home from traveling, and 56 percent of respondents report not knowing how to conduct a bed bug inspection.

“Being aware of bed bugs while traveling by plane, train or car is important because these pests are great hitchhikers,” said Orkin Entomologist and Technical Director Ron Harrison, Ph.D. “Bed bugs have been found in all 50 states where we provide service and travel easily from place to place on personal belongings and in luggage.”

Thirty seven of the 50 busiest airports ranked by the FAA are in cities on Orkin’s top 50 bed bug cities list. Of the top 10 bed bug cities, only Dayton, Ohio, does not boast a major airport.

Consistent inspections, as well as early intervention tactics, are important to help lower the risk of an infestation and the need for extensive pest control treatments. One female bed bug can lay one to two eggs a day and up to 200 eggs in her lifetime. Typically, bed bugs come out at night to feed, but during the day, they are most likely found within a five-foot radius of where people sleep.

Pest control professionals use several different techniques to identify bed bug infestations, including:

  • Thorough conventional inspections—performed with the naked eye.
  • Trained bed bug-sniffing dogs.
  • DNA testing, a new technique employed by Orkin to help confirm the presence of bed bugs by swabbing areas these pests typically crawl across for bed bug DNA.

“These pests can be found anywhere—from the finest hotels to the cleanest homes,” said Harrison. “Bed bugs do not discriminate, so everyone should get in the habit of regular inspection.” When traveling, Orkin suggests using the acronym S.L.E.E.P. to avoid taking bed bugs home with you.

  • Survey surfaces for signs of an infestation, such as tiny rust-colored spots on mattress tags and seams and bedskirts.
  • Lift and look for all bed bug hiding spots, including underneath the mattress, bed frame, headboard and furniture. They are about the size and shape of an apple seed when fully grown.
  • Elevate your luggage on a luggage rack away from the bed and wall, since bed bugs can often hide behind headboards, artwork, picture frames and electrical outlet panels. Luggage can also be placed in a garbage bag or the bathtub.
  • Examine your luggage carefully while repacking and when you return home. Always keep luggage off the bed and store it in a closet or other area, far away from your bedroom.
  • Place all your clothing from your luggage immediately in the dryer for at least 15 minutes at the highest setting upon returning home from travel.

Russell Research conducted Orkin’s survey from Nov. 18-21, 2011, among 1,112 online adults across the continental U.S. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.0 percentage points.

* Russell Research conducted Orkin’s survey from July 22-24, 2011, among 1,048 adults (ages 18 and over) living in private households across the continental U.S. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

 

About Orkin, LLC

Founded in 1901, Atlanta-based Orkin is an industry leader in essential pest control services and protection against termite damage, rodents and insects in the United States, Canada, Europe, Central America, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Asia, the Mediterranean and Africa. With more than 400 locations, Orkin’s almost 8,000 employees serve approximately 1.7 million customers. The company serves homeowners and numerous industries, including food and beverage processing, foodservice, hospitality, healthcare, retail, warehousing, property/facilities management, schools and institutions. Orkin is proud to be recognized by the National Pest Management Association as a QualityPro and GreenPro-certified company, addressing not only our customer’s pest control needs, but also their concern for protecting the environment. Learn more about Orkin at http://orkin.com. Orkin is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rollins Inc. (NYSE: ROL).