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Don’t let the bedbugs bite during travel

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The holidays give us a few days to travel to see family and friends.  But as we travel around there are some precautions to take to prevent getting bedbugs.  Ric Bessin our Extension Entomology Specialist shares these tips with us.

Until recently, bedbugs were uncommon in the United States.  However, they are now commonly found in homes, apartments and hotels, with the upper Midwest and Northeast corridor reporting high numbers.
While it is unpleasant to be bitten while staying at a hotel, it is even worse to bring the infestation home with you because eradication is very difficult.

Bedbugs are hitchhikers and easily move from place to place on luggage, clothing or furniture.

This mobility is a problem in high-trafficked areas like hotels.  Bedbugs are small and hard to detect. Plus they generally come out at night when the light is low and attack their victims in their sleep.

Concerned travelers should check their bed for signs of bedbugs. Characteristically, these areas are marked by dark spotting and staining, which is the dried excrement of the bugs. Also present will be eggs and eggshells, the brownish molted skins of maturing nymphs and the bugs themselves. Another telltale, though less frequent sign, is rusty or reddish blood smears on bed sheets or mattresses from crushing an engorged bed bug. Heavy infestations may have a “buggy” smell, but the odor is seldom apparent and should not be relied upon for detection.

Examine the bed sheets and upper and lower seams of the mattress and box springs, especially along the headboard of the bed.

Look behind the headboard if you can because it is a frequent hiding place for the bugs. If bedbugs are discovered, travelers can request another room, preferably in another area of the building.

Keep suitcases off the floor on a luggage stand, tabletop or other hard surface. Wear pajamas that cover as much skin as possible since bedbugs don’t tend to burrow under clothing.

If you experience itchy welts suggestive of bedbug bites during your stay, place all clothing in disposable plastic bags and put directly into the washer (using hot water) and dryer when you get home and throw away the plastic bags.

Bedbugs are hard to spot inside a suitcase.  However, you can inspect and vacuum luggage upon getting home. Treat or discard the suitcase if you suspect bedbugs.

The good news is bedbugs are not generally thought to transmit any diseases. 

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