Article originally sourced from Tallahassee Democrat
"The upcoming holiday season is a unique time of year where a large number of people are traveling to be with family or host family members at their houses during seasonal festivities.
If you aren’t Santa Claus with a sleigh and reindeer, you are likely traveling by car, train, bus, or airplane, and might even be staying in a hotel or two on the way. Traveling can be stressful, especially up north where winter storms can lead to travel delays and dangerous driving conditions.
What’s more stressful than dealing with the ordeals of traveling during a winter storm event? Traveling during a winter storm event and getting bedbugs.
About 20 or so years ago there wasn’t much of a concern about bedbugs. Most people in pest control hadn’t even seen them before. Now they are fairly common in just about every city in the United States, even Tallahassee.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about bedbugs because of the internet. It is important to at least have some familiarity with these pests so that you can hopefully prevent these “uninvited guest” from visiting you during the holiday season.
Bedbugs are insects just like bees and butterflies. While bees and butterflies like to feed on nectar in flowers, bedbugs are interested in feeding on something entirely different, human blood. In this regard, they are more similar to other blood-sucking insects such as mosquitoes.
Fortunately, bedbugs can’t give us any diseases like mosquitoes can, such as Zika, Chikungunya, or Dengue. Another important difference between mosquitoes and bed bugs is that they can’t fly. Bedbugs lack wings and can only crawl around to get from one place to another. Being only able to crawl really limits bed bugs’ ability to successfully reach an exposed area on our skin to feed. In order to overcome this, bed bugs are extra sneaky. They hide in areas where we sleep and then come out at night to feed.
Once they have fed, bedbugs retreat back into any dark cracks and crevices around where we are sleeping. This could include mattresses, box springs, nightstands, bed frames, suitcases next to beds, purses next to the bed, or basically any item they can get into in the infested room. This means that if you remove an item from an infested room to another location, you have a chance of starting a new bed bug infestation.
As you could imagine, there are a lot of places bedbugs could potentially be present that people commonly visit while traveling. These would include hotels, apartments, houses, cruise ships, trains, airplanes, buses, and places of worship. If you then left a suitcase or purse in one of these locations and brought it home, you could potentially infest your home with bedbugs.
The good news is that you can take precautions to prevent yourself from bringing bed bugs home during this holiday season. The basic principle is not to bring any items into your home that may have been exposed to bedbugs. It is always a good idea to not leave your suitcase, backpacks, purses, or any bags on or near hotel beds overnight.
When you are done with a trip and think you might have been in a location with bed bugs, putting all of your clothing from the trip into a dryer on high heat for 45 minutes will kill any bed bugs in that clothing.
Clothing that can’t be heated can be dry cleaned for the same effect. Once heated or dry cleaned, the clothing is then safe to be put into your bedroom. The suitcase you used can be placed in the garage or a tightly sealed garbage bag until you need it for your next trip.
If you ever suspect that you have bed bugs in your home, many local pest control companies offer bed bug inspection services. If you do happen to find that you have bed bugs in your home, the best course of action is to hire a licensed pest control company to take care of the issue.
Bed bugs can be tough to kill on your own. They can live up to a year without feeding and some of the over the counter insecticides you buy at stores may be ineffective at killing bed bugs. It's best to let a professional deal with these kinds of bugs."