How To Detect Bed Bugs In Hotels

How to Search Your Hotel Room for Bed Bugs


How to Search Your Hotel Room for Bed Bugs

You’re packed for your trip, your boarding passes are downloaded. and then that little moment of terror hits. What if the hotel you’re going to stay in has bed bugs? It’s a real concern, but by being vigilant, you can reduce your chances of bringing home some unexpected souvenirs.

I don’t put a lot of trust in online hotel bed bug ratings or reports; infestation status can change from day to day, and there is no reliable way to verify that reviews are not fake.

Here’s howIsearch for bed bugs when I arrive at a new hotel. I can’t promise this is foolproof, but knowing how one slightly-paranoid entomologist deals with the threat of bed bugs might be useful to some readers.

Tools you will need:A flashlight, or the flashlight feature of your phone. Use your phone to take photos of anything suspicious.

What you are looking for:Bedbugs hang out near their food source–you. After feeding, bed bugs poop, creating tell-tale brown stains of your clotted blood. You typically won’t see bugs – they are fairly tiny and can scurry quickly – but you will see these stains. You can find many itch-inducing photos here to help you know what to look for.

1. Put your luggage in the bathtub when you arrive.Luggage is a major way that bed bugs are moved from place to place. The bathroom has the fewest places for bed bugs to hide, and is the most vigorously cleaned part of a hotel room. If you actually find something suspicious in your search, you can grab your bags out of the tub and run away without risking contamination.

2. Tear the place up.Pull the bed away from the wall, if possible. Headboards fastened to the wall next to the bed are a great place for a flat little insect to stay. Shine your flashlight behind headboards and under beds. Strip the bed, right down to the mattress and bed springs to see what’s underneath the sheets and mattress pad. Lift the mattress and box springs up and look underneath. If it’s a platform bed, inspect carefully under the springs and around the base. Pay special attention to the seams of mattresses and the box springs. These are spots the bugs like to hide in.

3. Check your sheets the next morning.When you get up the next morning, look for little blood stains or tiny rusty spots on your sheets. Reactions to bed bug bites vary widely, from no reaction at all to lots of swelling and redness. You may be one of the people that doesn’t react with itching to the bed bug bites, so the presence of bites isn’t always a reliable check. Bed bugs sometimes bite in groups of three – but so do fleas, so that isn’t always definitive. Don’t use luggage racks, closet shelves, or drawers during your stay unless you feel confident that they are bed bug free.

This video is an excellent walkthrough of what should be your standard drill when you travel. Bookmark it. At the end, there are also some good tips for how to negotiate with your hotel if you actually find bed bugs.

Bed Bugs: There’s an App for that.

It’d be handy if you could have all of this info on your phone so you don’t miss any steps, and had photos of bed bugs and bed bug poop spots to compare to. Several different apps are on the market at prices ranging from free to $10 bucks. Every app I looked at was put out by a commercial entity, with the purpose of selling you something.

Most also had epically bad user interface (UI) design and graphics; it seemed like pest control companies just ported their vintage 1996 websites into a phone app. I’m afraid I must also report there was some use of Comic Sans Fonts.

The problem with a commercially-created phone app is privacy. You hand over a lot of personal information when you install an app. I honestly didn’t see much in terms of value added that would make it worth downloading any of these apps. I found "joke" apps pretending to be bed bug detectors for the purposes of freaking your friends out, and some highly bogus "ultrasonic repelling" apps that suggest they turn your phone into a sonic threat to bugs of all kinds. There is no evidence that bed bugs or mosquitoes are repelled by ultrasound. Don’t waste your money.

A screenshot showing the comparison tool of the Proof app.

Only one app stood out asslightlyuseful: Bed Bug Proof. (Important caveat:every few screens they try to sell you their product, a neem spray called Proof™.) The inspection walk-through is a good overview, and if you give the app access to the photos on your phone, you can access a photo comparison tool. The user interface is clear and easy to use.

Happy Hotel Hunting.

Additional Bed Bug Resources:

How to Find Bed Bugs in Hotels & Motels

Travel Tips

(Photo: Images )

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No matter how clean the room, bed bugs sometimes infest hotels and motels around the world. The small, flattened bodies of bed bugs fit easily into small spaces and the folds of linens, carpet and upholstered chairs, making them difficult to detect, and most people are unaware of an infestation until waking up with small, irritating bites all over their bodies. However, avoiding hotel and motel rooms with bed bugs is easy to do since bed bugs always leave signs of their presence that are easy to spot if you know where to look.

Items you will need

  • Small flashlight

Step 1

Set your bags on a luggage rack inside the bathroom upon entering an unfamiliar hotel or motel room. Avoid placing your bags on the carpet, furniture or bed until after inspecting the room for bed bugs.

Step 2

Look around the baseboards along the bottom of the walls for signs of bed bugs. Look for black or rusty red smears on the wallpaper or plaster.

Step 3

Shine a small flashlight into the crevices between the baseboards and the wall to see if the insects are visible. Look for tiny, reddish-brown insects resembling ticks with a length no greater than 1/5 inch.

Step 4

Pull back the corners of the bed linens to reveal the mattress. Pay close attention to any brown, black or rusty-red splatter-like discolorations on the mattress, as well as the characteristic sweet, mildew-like scent of bed bugs’ excrement.

Step 5

Look under the mattress for signs of bed bugs including the signature dark-brown or blacks spots, insect casings or living bugs. Pay attention to any sweet or musty smells emanating from the mattress.

Step 6

Lift the cushions on the chairs or look in the crevices of the fabric for spots or live bugs. Shine a small flashlight into the crevices since the light will prompt the bed bugs to emerge from hiding and scatter.

  • Move your luggage into the room after making certain the room does not harbor bed bugs. Check out and move to a different hotel if bed bugs are present since they will infest your luggage and travel home with you.


Leaf Group is a USA TODAY content partner providing general travel information. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

You Should Always Check Your Hotel Room For Bed Bugs

With thousands of travelers passing through their doors, it’s inevitable that hotel rooms are prone to bed bug infestations. E ven luxury hotels, like New York City’s Ritz-Carlton, are susceptible to these unwelcome guests.

To protect yourself from infestation, you should always check for bed bugs in hotel rooms. Here’s how:

1. When you enter a room, don’t unpack. Bring your luggage to a clean bathtub or a rack that will keep it off the floor until you have inspected the room.

3. Pull the blanket and linens off the bed. Start with the corners, where bed bugs like to hide. You’re looking for bugs or dark brown blood spots.

For your reference, here’s what you’re looking for: bed bugs (they’re tiny—about 4 mm long) and dark blood spots:

If you do find bed bugs, leave immediately. And if nothing comes up in your search, rest assured that you can sleep unmolested.

How to Detect and Avoid Bed Bugs in Hotel Rooms

What’s one of the first things you do when you enter a hotel room after a long day of traveling? Throw your luggage on the bed and sit down? Or flop down onto the bed to rest? According to Jim Dill, Extension Educator at The University of Maine, the bed is the last thing we should be touching when we first walk into a hotel room.

You’ve probably heard of bed bugs — small, blood-sucking parasites that feed on mammals and birds. Adult bedbugs are reddish-brown in color, with flat, oval-shaped bodies that are 4-5 millimeters in length. Bedbugs are attracted to warmth, and they usually feed at night, making a hotel bed the perfect spot for them to settle in. These little creatures can be found almost anywhere, so whether you are staying at a hotel for the night, moving into an apartment, or renting a beach house for a week, your safest bet is to check the bed right away.

Bedbugs can lay one to five eggs in a day, and more than 500 eggs in a lifetime. Their hatchlings are so small that they can pass through a stitch-hole in a mattress. If you are officially grossed out at this point, here’s the good news: Jim Dill has put together a video to help us look for and detect bed bugs during our next hotel stay before we climb underneath the covers. If the possibility of these insects feeding on your blood while you sleep is enough to freak you out, you’ll want to check out the video below:

Bed Bug Detectors: A Comparison Review. How to the Find Insects Before They Find You

As you know, it’s better to prevent a serious problem rather than to rack your brains over solving it. This is especially true for the issue of bed bugs. Unfortunately, most of us are familiar with these pests. Perhaps you have already had to throw out your favorite and comfy mattress infested by the bed bugs… They can reappear though in any house, apartment or office, so that’s why you’d better find and neutralize them than let them spoil your life and sound sleep. You can hire the exterminators who would bring a bed bug sniffing dog, but this is an expensive procedure. Or you can try and solve the problem by yourself. But what is the right bed bug detector? How do they work? Here you’ll find a comparison review of four detectors that you can buy online.

Table of Contents:

How Do You Get Bed Bugs

It may seem that they come out of nowhere, but it’s not true. They can get to your house via different paths.

You attract themjust like you attract any other blood-sucking insects. Bed bugs feed on warm blood and they specifically prefer human blood as it is the warmest of all and is abundant. In order to get to the source of blood, they settle in furniture and other objects, and crawl out of them at night to have a feast.

Potential places of bed bugs provenance include such public places ascity transitor evencinemaswhere the chairs’ upholstery is soft, i.e. anywhere where there is furniture. This applies to places inhabited by people:hospitals, shelters and hostels. Don’t forget that they also can inhabitlaundriesor evenschools. They are small and flat, and can crawl into any crack in the furniture and get into your clothes or bag when you visit one of the above mentioned places, that is why they are often called hitchhikers. Once you bring them home, you’ll set off a time bomb and they will fill your entire house. They are so dangerous, that some schools cancelled classes because of a single bed bug case.

Here is animportant fact: bed bugs were a big problem in the USA until 1940-50s, but the issue cased to be crucial in the last couple of decades with the life quality and hygiene habits improvement. Michael F. Potter, Extension Entomologist of University of Kentucky College of Agriculture expresses his opinion on why the bed bug threat has re-occurred in the USA:“Immigration and international travel have contributed to the resurgence of bed bugs in the U.S”.

The likelihood of bed bug infestation at home increases indeed if you justgot back from a tripor if you’ve beenhitchhiking(in this case you can easily get infested by fleas as well). In such a situation it is yoursuitcasethat acts as a carrier of the pests into your house. As they love heat, you’re most likely to bring them from tropic countries especially from those where cleaning of the territories and accommodation leaves much to be desired.

Now, let’s get back to furniture, which is a favorite place to crawl in of these little crawling creatures. Statistics of the Department of Entomology of University of Kentucky’s experts show that:“the most common areas for finding bed bugs were beds (mentioned by 85% of respondents), bedding (mentioned by 52%), furniture such as nightstands and dressers (26%), couches and chairs (25%)”. Over 37% of respondents have encountered these pests in baseboards and under the carpet sides, few of them have come across bed bugs in the walls, on the ceiling and in the clothes.

As you can see, the bed bugs are more attracted by a sofa or a bed with a mattress and especially the kind of furniture that is often neglected when cleaning: the mattress cases are barely washed, the upholstery isn’t cleaned properly either. However, the problem is not always in the brand-new furniture which you have once bought at IKEA or straight from the manufacturing works. Sometimes it is thevintage furniturebought from someone or rented that becomes a source of bed bugs. The risk is especially high if you don’t know how and by whom it was previously used. The same goes for secondary housing which may already be infested.

In addition, bed bugs can crawl to you from your neighbors’ place, should their apartment be infested. Although these insects can neither fly nor jump, they can go without food for quite some time and they crawl rather fast. That is why they can easily over overcome the distance between your neighbors’ front door and yours one, as a hungry bed bugcan crawl up to 20 (!) meters in search of the food.

As you can see, there are many places of bed bug provenance. That’s why you can’t be idle and wait to be bitten. You should have a clear understanding of bed bug signs so that you don’t miss the beginning of their hostile attack on your place.

Bed Bug Detection: the Clearest Bed Bug Signs

It’s time to talk about signs of life bed bugs show. Most of them, of course, are connected with bites:

  • Bed bugs’ bites are red spots on any part of human body.
  • There are always trails of 2-3 bites in a row, a bed bug doesn’t suck all of the blood at once, it feeds on it gradually and bites several times.
  • Itching and redness almost always accompany these insects’ bites.

What is interesting is that almost every third person bitten doesn’t feel any uncomfortable sensations! We have also encountered an opinion that it is the newborns who attract the bed bugs most as their blood tastes specifically well for them. We don’t know whether the newborns are really bitten more often, but the bites can be the actual cause of their constant crying because their skin is really sensitive.

If you are not sure, whether you or your child were bitten by a bed bug, a mosquito or someone else, we have drawn up a chart for you listing different insects’ bite signs so that you could identify the pest bothering you.

Symptom /Insect

Bed Bug



The bite spot

Medium-sized stiff red swollen spots

Small red swollen spots

Small deep bites with a hole in its center, and a red areola around it. Some blisters are also found.

Where do they bite ?

3-5 bites form a trail on any body part.

The bites are separate, spots can be found all over the body.

As a rule, 2-3 bites form a trail. Most often fleas bite feet and shins, less often they attack the upper body.


Bed bugs are night insects so you’ll find the bites the morning after once you wake up.

Bites can appear at any time

Bites can appear at any time


Does not necessarily happen, but in any case doesn’t last long.

Intense, goes away relatively quickly.

Intense, goes away relatively quickly.

Other typical symptoms

Brownish stains on the bed sheets and under the mattresses which are the remains of the bed bugs you’ve accidentally crushed.

Mosquitoes squeak, bites are visible when skin starts to itch

Strong pain at the moment of the bite, the insect is not observed though.

Insect activity peak

The insects are active all year around

Activity peaks at the end of spring and during summer

Activity peaks at the end of summer

Apart from the bed bug bites, other signs of infestation includeblood spotson the bed sheets and mattress as well as some black dots which are these insects’feces.

Mind that these pests prefer wood and paper to metal and plastic, which is proven by the New York State IPM Program of Cornell University (Michael F. Potter, whom we have already quoted, adds fabric to this list as well). That is why you have to meticulously go through the wooden furniture frames, check the cracks, seams and hidden spots. But how do you find bed bugs in the mattress or soft upholstery?

Bed Bugs Detectors

Most often people understand that their house has been infected once they have already noticed the bites. So how do you find the bed bugs in this case? You can hire the exterminators who would bring a bed bug sniffing dog, but this is an expensive procedure. So you can try and solve the problem by yourself. We have tried our utmost to find the best bed bug detectors for you, but unfortunately there are few decent items out there.


Climbup stands for Check current price are one of today’s best selling bed bug traps and detectors with the 4 stars out of 5 rating. These are plastic round stands for your bed’s legs which contain two circles: an internal and an external one. Some talc powder can be found inside so that the pests cannot migrate between the circles or get outside.

With these things you’ll be able to understand the direction of pests’ moving, whether they come from the floor and furniture or vice versa, from your bed. If the infestation is external (mind that the bed bugs inhabit both the closets and floor cracks), they will get trapped in the external circle. In case they inhabit the bed and try to move along the bed legs, they will be trapped in the internal circle. This is why this product is not a mere detector, but also a full-scale trap.

Over 67% of customers are satisfied with Climbup Insect Interceptor and combine it with continuous bed bug elimination. They are also popular as a preventive measure used alongside with the special mattress encasement (by the way, we have covered the best ones in our 5 Best Bed Bug Mattress Protectors review ). There are still some drawbacks as some say that the plastic stands can crack, so you should take care of them. Else, using these detectors will be pointless and the insects will crawl away even if the cracks are tiny. The stands are supposed to stand steadily and it is preferable to locate them right on the floor. People share from their experience that they rip when on the carpet.

By the way, some experienced users recommend you not to be in despair if you catch none of the bugs and to use the stands for at least a month. They also recommend others to“Purchase some diatomaceous earth to put in the spaces meant to trap the bugs rather than talc powder. This will ensure they not only are trapped, but die quickly (hopefully painfully)”. Read other helpful customers’ tips.

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