The Unwelcome Travel Companion—Bed Bugs

Whether traveling for business or pleasure, many Americans take to the skies or hit the road for vacation during the summer months. In addition to packing luggage and double-checking itineraries, travelers should learn how to prevent unwelcome surprises, like bed bugs, from spoiling their trip or return home.

Pest control leader Orkin, Inc. has seen a rise in the number of bed bugs cases over the past several years, treating infestations in 48 states to date, versus only 43 states in 2004 and 35 states in 2003. Experts believe bed bugs’ return and prevalence in the U.S. are due to an increase in international travel and the change to more targeted pest control applications. These factors, combined with increased media coverage on bed bugs, have also heightened awareness of these blood-sucking pests among the general public.

Contrary to popular belief, bed bugs are not a sanitation issue; they don’t discriminate and can be found in any hotel—luxury to inexpensive—and any home—big, small, clean or dirty as well as dormitories and cruise ships.

“Once a bed bug finds its way indoors, it can move from room to room by traveling on clothing and luggage or through pipes and vacuum cleaners,” said Frank Meek, board-certified entomologist and technical director for Orkin, Inc. “This tendency to hitchhike—as well as a bed bug’s ability to survive more than a year without a blood meal—make proper prevention and control steps even more important.”

While bed bugs are not known to carry disease, these apple-seed-sized pests can leave behind itchy, bloody welts.

Meek recommends travelers use the acronym, S.L.E.E.P., to remember the common signs of a bed bug infestation and to help prevent these pests from becoming an unwelcome travel companion or souvenir:

  • Survey surfaces for signs of an infestation, such as dark brown or red spots on sheets.

  • Lift and look for all bed bug hiding spots, including the mattress, headboard and furniture. Bed bugs are nocturnal and tend to sleep in close proximity to their food source—you!

  • Elevate your luggage on a luggage rack away from the bed and wall, where bed bugs often hide behind headboards, picture frames and electrical outlet panels.

  • Examine your luggage while repacking and when you return home. Remember, bed bugs are only 3/16" and can easily fit in cracks and crevices.

  • Professionals can treat these resilient pests, which are extremely difficult to kill and can survive temperatures of up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Did You Know?

Bed bugs are not a sanitation issue, which means they can be found in any hotel or home. A quick inspection for common signs of an infestation can mean the difference between a relaxing vacation from start to finish and a spoiled return home due to unwanted pests. To learn more bed bug prevention tips, visit our bed bug pest page.

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