What’s Up With Bed Bugs?

Travel Tips — By thmeeks on May 27, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Put the words “bed” and “bug” in the same sentence, and most people shudder. Experienced travelers know that these little insects have been on the rise in recent year. No hotel, no matter how many stars it has, is immune–and that includes Las Vegas hotels. But why are these pests on the rise, and what can you do to avoid them?

Bed Bugs, Pesticides, and Travel

Years ago, highly toxic pesticides like DDT kept bed bugs under control. Most of these pesticides are no longer in use because of their toxicity. Bed bugs are also developing resistance to pesticides.

Increased international travel has helped the tiny insects spread around the world into every city. They’re very capable hitchhikers—they’re tiny and good at hiding.

Spot the Bed Bugs Before They Bite

No one wants to wake up with a rash of bed bug bites—red, itchy welts. The best way to prevent that is to be proactive. Before you arrive at your hotel room, do some homework. Check sites like The Bed Bug Registry and Bed Bugger to read up on what bed bugs look like and hotels they’ve been reported in. Once you arrive at your hotel room:

  • Use a luggage rack for your bags. Do not set your bags on the floor or the bed.
  • Look for bed bugs in your room. Thoroughly check the mattress and headboard for evidence of the small insects—the adults are approximately the size of an apple seed. Bed bug poop is about the size of a pinhead. The bugs also leave discarded exoskeletons.

If you find evidence of bed bugs, take pictures or collect what you find to show to the hotel management, and go talk to them right away. Obviously, ask for another room. And remember: any hotel can have bed bugs.

Keep Bed Bugs Out of Your House

Some travelers treat all clothing and baggage as though it were infected with bed bugs. While it’s extra work to take additional precautions, it’s a small effort compared to ridding your home of a bed bug infestation.

If you want to be extra careful, unpack your clothing directly into a washing machine, and use the hottest setting your clothes will tolerate. If the little hitchhikers came home with you, they won’t survive the “hot” setting on your washer and dryer. Inspect your luggage, and consider putting it in plastic bags until you can wash it with hot, soapy water and a brush–provided it will stand up to that.

The Bottom Line on Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are not going away any time soon. They like four-star hotels just as much as little motels, and they love sucking up unsuspecting travelers’ blood. Be informed and diligent, and you won’t be snack food for bed bugs.


Photos courtesy of Justin, Lauren, Henri Bergius

Tags: Bed Bugs