The last thing anyone wants to share a bed with is creepy crawlers – or even slow-moving pests like bed bugs.
Summer is the peak time for bed bugs, as they tend to favor warmer temperatures. It’s also a time when people are traveling more, making them susceptible to the hitchhiking pests. They’re very difficult to get rid of, making it essential for travelers to check their lodgings before they stay the night.
When Heather Winn, Cherokee County OSU Cooperative Extension Service educator, goes to a hotel, she leaves her luggage outside of the room before checking the furniture.
“I go in and I first look at the mattresses,” she said. “I go to one of the corners, pull the mattress up at the head of the bed, and you can see if there is any fecal matter or actual bugs.”
Hotel guests should pull back the sheets and blankets to check for signs of an infestation. The baseboards where the floor meets the wall can also be examined. The bugs more likely to be found at the front of the bed where people rest their heads. Headboards are another common place of residence
Bed bugs often defecate as they process their blood meal, leaving black stains on fabric. They can also produce a dirty-looking area containing cast-off skins, eggs and fecal material. Once the coast is clear, luggage can be brought in and placed on a hard surface, like a desk or on the luggage rack.
When heading home, suitcases and bags can be left outside if it’s a hot, sunny day. Or they could be placed in a vehicles with the windows rolled up, as bed bugs exposed to extreme heat will die in time.
“If you get them, they get into your stuff, and you take them home, it’s so, so hard to get rid of them,” said Winn. “A heat treatment is basically the best method. A pest management professional will be the best way to help get rid of them. They heat the house or apartment up to 130 degrees and hold that temperature for four hours to six hours.”
Washing and drying bedding, clothes, and other linens on a high setting can kill bed bugs. Vacuuming will also help, but homeowners should properly dispose of the vacuum bag outside of the home. Sticky traps are another way to monitor whether bed bugs, or any kind of insect, are taking shelter in a home.
“You can buy mattress encasement that actually helps seal your mattress and box springs,” Winn said. “That way, if perhaps someone happens to have them and brings them to your house, you would have at least a layer of protection, as far as your mattresses go.”
Used clothing and furniture is another good spot to find bed bugs. They can hide in tiny holes, cracks and upholstery seams. They can also live up to a year without feeding.
According to the OSU Cooperative Extension Service, bed bugs can infest any type of home: large or small, neat or messy. They can affect the poor, rich and everyone equally.
“Reducing clutter helps,” Winn said. “Having a dirty home is not healthy, and it’s not a good thing, but you’re probably going to get them somewhere else and bring them home. Then getting rid of them is going to be the hard part.”