Plane tickets booked. Check. Hotel room reserved. Check. Suitcase packed. Check. The one part of your summer vacation plans you’re probably not prepared for: the possibility of pests threatening you, your family or the home you left behind. Each summer, travelers have to deal with the unexpected stress and inconvenience of bug bites during their trip or rodent invasions when they return home.
What can travelers do to prevent pests from detouring travel plans? Orkin advises travelers to be informed. Destination matters. Travelers may take for granted the fact that certain types of insects that are harmless in one region could be problematic in other regions. If travelers aren’t careful, they may encounter unexpected pests that bite or carry and spread diseases. Below is a look at the pests to watch for across the United States and in the Caribbean.
Rocky Mountain Wood Ticks:
While different types of ticks are present across the United States, this species can cause Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia, both of which can cause fevers, headaches, muscle soreness and nausea.
Also called the aggressive house spider, they are extremely protective of their eggs and will bite if threatened.
Brown Recluse Spiders:
Native only to the Midwest and South, they can bite when disturbed or threatened and inject toxic venom. Because they are solitary and secretive, they may live inside boxes, clothing, shoes, furniture, attics and other dark, warm locations.
These ticks, common in the Northeast and Midwest, can spread Lyme disease, which was named for the Connecticut town where it was first diagnosed.
Lyme disease can lead to paralysis. If left untreated, it can be fatal. Blacklegged ticks tend to cling to leaves bordering trails in wooded areas.
The venom in a scorpion’s sting can cause swelling and in extreme cases, difficulty breathing. When outdoors, wear long sleeves and pants, and check shoes and sleeping bags before use.
Chagas disease, which causes flu-like symptoms and can be deadly, is spread by blood-sucking insects nicknamed “kissing bugs” because they draw blood from the face of the victims.
These red pests are common in the Southern and Southeastern United States. They are aggressive and inject venom that can cause allergic reactions when they sting.
While mosquitoes are found across the United States, the Asian tiger mosquito found in the Southeast can carry West Nile and Chikungunya virus. This species is active all day, not just at dusk and dawn.
Travel to the Caribbean: Travelers to this region could be at risk of getting Chikungunya virus, which is spread by mosquitoes. There is a risk that the virus could come home with infected travelers and spread in the United States. The only way to prevent Chikungunya virus is to prevent mosquito bites by covering exposed skin when outside, using an EPA-approved insect repellent, emptying standing water inside and outside where mosquitoes could breed and ensuring screens have no holes and fit tightly.
What about Bed Bugs?
Every traveler should also take precautions to prevent bed bugs, even in the summer. They have been reported in hotels, cruise ships, homes and even public transit in some parts of the country.
Bed bugs are hitchhikers that hide in belongings and then travel from place to place. Once bed bugs are inside a home or business, they can reproduce quickly.
Chicago topped Orkin’s Bed Bug Cities List this year, but people traveling to any part of the country should check the mattress, box spring, sheets and furniture in a hotel room and keep their luggage and other items off the floor. For a printable bed bug guide log onto Orkin.com.
Prepare your Home
Just because you’re leaving home doesn’t mean pests – including cockroaches, beetles, rats and mice – are leaving, too. To prevent pests from taking up residence in your home while you’re away, follow these tips before you go:
- Install weather stripping at the bottom of exterior doors and seal all cracks larger than ¼-inch.
- Clean your home, take out the trash and store all food in sealed containers.
- Place firewood, bricks and debris as far from the home as possible.
It’s also a good idea to have your pest professional continue to check your home when you’re away for an extended period of time to help prevent pests from getting inside.