If you think you have been exposed to bed bugs, don’t panic.
What you do after discovering you and your luggage may have been exposed can make a big difference as to whether you take the bug home. It’s worth proceeding carefully and cautiously since avoiding an infestation can save you thousands of dollars and months of trouble and discomfort.
First, you need to learn a little bit about bed bug biology and behavior. Many internet sites have this information. I recommend searching college and university websites such as Cornell University and the University of Kentucky. Also check-out Bedbugger.com
You need to know what a bed bug looks like. You can get images from the internet. Bed bugs develop from an egg. When the egg hatches, a very tiny, but visible, bed bug emerges. This immature stage known as the nymph, also needs a blood meal to survive. The bed bug matures to an adult by going through, typically five (5) stages. It must feed on blood in all stages before maturing to the adult stage.
Bed bugs do not hop, skip, jump or fly (they do not develop wings). However, bed bugs are great “hitchhikers”. They are usually brought home in your luggage and clothing items, books and almost any item they can grab onto and hide in. I have seen them in CD jewel cases, cell phones and all types of electronic devices including IPODS and IPADS.
When traveling, you need to ask at the registration desk if there have been any reports of bed bugs. By law, the hotel / motel must tell you. However, you may want to inspect the room before you occupy it. This is difficult for an individual without any experience inspecting for bed bugs.
By keeping your luggage in the bathtub (this may be a little extreme) bed bugs cannot climb-up the smooth surface to get into your stuff. Check the headboard of the bed. If it can be removed from the wall, remove it and look for signs of bed bug activity. Typically, but not always, higher-end hotels usually do not have bed bug issues. However, if a guest brings in bed bugs in their belongings, it may take some time for the management to discover the problem and address it immediately.
Once home, if you do find bed bugs or signs of bed bugs in your luggage, clothing or in any rooms, call a pest management professional right away Save any samples to show them.
Finally, if you know you were exposed to bedbugs in a hotel, hostel, or other accommodations, consider leaving a review on Tripadvisor.com, or a post on the Bed Bug Registry to warn others of your experience.
Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to become educated about this resurging pest. Knowledge is power. Empower yourself!
Michael Deutsch MS, BCE
Board Certified Entomologist
Arrow Exterminating Company, Inc.