How To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs After Travel

How to Move Without Bringing Bed Bugs With You

Moving is stressful enough already. Dealing with moving companies, boxing up everything you own, and figuring out how you’re going to fit your grandmother’s armoire into a Prius is all more than enough to induce a migraine or two. You shouldn’t have to worry about bringing bed bugs with you while you’re moving.

Unfortunately, if you have bed bugs in your current residence (whether or not you even know that they’re there), there’s a good chance that they will follow your family to their next nesting ground. To top it off, addendums in the fine print pinning bed bug extermination costs on the tenant is an increasingly popular tactic among landlords.

Whether or not you’ve been waking up to bed bug bites, it would be smart to take a few simple precautions to insure that your new home isn’t exposed to an infestation. Here are a few things you can do to make the big move without bringing bed bugs along for a ride:

Launder your clothes, bedding, and pillows.

Before you pack away the clothes in your closet, throw them in the washer and dryer. Whether they’ve been worn recently or not, clothing is a very common hiding place for bed bugs. They’re easy to treat; the high heat setting on any dryer will kill bed bugs and their eggs in a short cycle. Do the same for your beds’ sheets, covers, pillowcases, and pillows. Just make sure to check the labels on each item so nothing gets damaged.

Use a portable bed bug heater.

Since your shoes and books won’t make it out of the dryer in the best shape, you’ll need another treatment method for them. Portable bed bug heaters, like the new ZappBug Oven, are perfect for heat-treating your belongings. A ZappBug can safely heat up your shoes, books, luggage, chairs, rugs, papers, bedding and more. It can be set up in minutes, and starts heating with a push of a button; within six hours, any bed bugs or eggs inside will be toast.

Use new packing material and boxes.

Asking neighbors, family members, and local stores for their empty boxes has always been a smart way to move on a budget. However, this does carry a risk of inviting bed bugs to join you on the ride to your new home. To avoid this, consider purchasing new, sealed boxes and packing materials. You can find everything you need at your local post office, office supply store, or business shipping center. Don’t open the packages until you’re ready to start packing, to prevent bed bugs from hiding in them.

Don’t buy used furniture.

In the same vein of avoiding used boxes and packing peanuts, you should definitely steer clear of used furniture. Couches and mattresses on the street are one of the most common ways that bed bug infestations spread. The previous owners may or may not have known that they even had bed bugs, but either way it’s simply not worth the risk. If you do come across a pre-owned sofa or loveseat that you can’t resist, treat it with a vacuum and steamer as soon as you bring it home – when done properly, this will kill any bed bugs or eggs hiding inside the upholstery.

Do you have any advice for staying bed bug-free on the move? Don’t keep it to yourself; throw us a tip in the comments or on our Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ page.

How to Move Without Bringing Bed Bugs With You

Moving is stressful enough already. Dealing with moving companies, boxing up everything you own, and figuring out how you’re going to fit your grandmother’s armoire into a Prius is all more than enough to induce a migraine or two. You shouldn’t have to worry about bringing bed bugs with you while you’re moving.

Unfortunately, if you have bed bugs in your current residence (whether or not you even know that they’re there), there’s a good chance that they will follow your family to their next nesting ground. To top it off, addendums in the fine print pinning bed bug extermination costs on the tenant is an increasingly popular tactic among landlords.

Whether or not you’ve been waking up to bed bug bites, it would be smart to take a few simple precautions to insure that your new home isn’t exposed to an infestation. Here are a few things you can do to make the big move without bringing bed bugs along for a ride:

Launder your clothes, bedding, and pillows.

Before you pack away the clothes in your closet, throw them in the washer and dryer. Whether they’ve been worn recently or not, clothing is a very common hiding place for bed bugs. They’re easy to treat; the high heat setting on any dryer will kill bed bugs and their eggs in a short cycle. Do the same for your beds’ sheets, covers, pillowcases, and pillows. Just make sure to check the labels on each item so nothing gets damaged.

Use a portable bed bug heater.

Since your shoes and books won’t make it out of the dryer in the best shape, you’ll need another treatment method for them. Portable bed bug heaters, like the new ZappBug Oven, are perfect for heat-treating your belongings. A ZappBug can safely heat up your shoes, books, luggage, chairs, rugs, papers, bedding and more. It can be set up in minutes, and starts heating with a push of a button; within six hours, any bed bugs or eggs inside will be toast.

Use new packing material and boxes.

Asking neighbors, family members, and local stores for their empty boxes has always been a smart way to move on a budget. However, this does carry a risk of inviting bed bugs to join you on the ride to your new home. To avoid this, consider purchasing new, sealed boxes and packing materials. You can find everything you need at your local post office, office supply store, or business shipping center. Don’t open the packages until you’re ready to start packing, to prevent bed bugs from hiding in them.

Don’t buy used furniture.

In the same vein of avoiding used boxes and packing peanuts, you should definitely steer clear of used furniture. Couches and mattresses on the street are one of the most common ways that bed bug infestations spread. The previous owners may or may not have known that they even had bed bugs, but either way it’s simply not worth the risk. If you do come across a pre-owned sofa or loveseat that you can’t resist, treat it with a vacuum and steamer as soon as you bring it home – when done properly, this will kill any bed bugs or eggs hiding inside the upholstery.

Do you have any advice for staying bed bug-free on the move? Don’t keep it to yourself; throw us a tip in the comments or on our Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ page.

Everything You Need to Know to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

Before you panic, read up on how the pests really operate.

The resurgence of bed bugs in American homes has caused many a sleepless night — but not everything you hear is true.

Before you start pointing fingers at the reasons your home is infested or why you do — or don’t — have a bed bugs problem, know this: Entomologist Richard Pollack, Ph.D., has found fewer than 10% of the critters people identify as bed bugs actuallyarebed bugs. That’s also why he doesn’t trust websites that list reports of bed bugs at hotels.

If you suspect you’ve got some unwelcome visitors at your house, here is everything you need to know about these nasty insects first.

Where do bed bugs come from?

Bed bugs most notoriously hitch rides on luggage, but traveling isn’t the only way to pick them up. They can easily be carried into the house on secondhand furniture, clothing, boxes, and pillows, so inspect such itemsverycarefully. Encasement products like Good Housekeeping Seal holder AllerEase mattress protector can also prevent bugs that do make it inside from hunkering down in crevices.

But while reports of bed bugs at movie theaters and in retail stores have made headlines, it’s rare that someone actually brings them home, says Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann, an urban entomologist at Cornell University.

What are bed bugs attracted to?

Whether you have a messy home or a neat home, bed bugs only care that their food source, a.k.a. people, are nearby. Luckily, there’s no evidence they transmit diseases as they feed. The real threat: itchy, red bites, which are the first sign of an infestation.

Can bed bugs bite through clothes?

Unfortunately, long-sleeved pajamas won’t shield you from bed bug bites. In fact, that’s one of the tell-tale signs of an infestation. "If you wake up with numerous bites, especially under your clothes, it could be bed bugs," says David Dunham of Go Green Bedbug Dogs. Not everyone experiences the same skin reaction though. "It’s common for one person to become the host or the person getting all the bites, while their spouse or partner will get no bites at all," he adds. "Usually the person not getting bites will discredit their partner’s concerns.

Now, here’s how to get rid of bed bugs:

The first step is searching your furnishings, particularly along and behind the headboard and sides of the mattress. Bed bugs will hole up in furniture, along baseboards, in cracks in walls and, yes, in beds. Look for black stains (they leave behind blood and fecal matter), discarded molted skins, and the bugs themselves, but don’t wait too long to contact a professional.

"The biggest mistake people make is waiting too long to call for help, because the longer the problem goes on, the bigger of a chance they’ll spread within the home and even outside of the home," Dunham says.

Send or bring evidence to your local Cooperative Extension office (usually $5) or contact an online bug-ID service such as Pollack’s IdentifyUS ($30) for a diagnosis. Accuracy is very important, so pinpoint the areas and rooms in your home that need treatment and act swiftly.

As soon as you determine you have bed bugs, seal the infested bedding and clothing in clean plastic bags. Sort items based on how you would wash clothes and make a separate dry-clean only pile, advises the University of Minnesota Department of Entomology. Then wash and dry the items at the hottest temperature they can withstand.

While some bugs will die in the washing machine, it’s the heat of the dryer that will kill more of them. At least 60 minutes on a high-heat setting should do the trick, according to New York State Integrated Pest Management. Immediately dispose of the used plastic bags and put clean clothes in new ones. Don’t take the items out of the bag until the infestation is successfully controlled.

Thoroughly vacuuming rugs, floors, furniture, beds, and all cracks and crevices can also cut down on your bed bug population, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Afterwards, put the contaminated vacuum bag in a tightly sealed bag and throw it away in an outside garbage bin.

While some people think over-the-counter sprays are a solution, pyrethroid-based pesticides may kill or repel some of the insects, but can be dangerous if misused, and it’s doubtful you’ll be successful on your own. Instead, get written quotes from three licensed exterminators detailing their course of action, including pesticides, traps, and/or heat treatments they’ll use and how and where they’ll use them. "You should ask lots of questions to the companies you interview, because a good company will answer them and will never pressure you to make an appointment," says Dunham.

Asking the company about their success rate and if their treatment comes with a guarantee, should their efforts not be successful, is a must. Good luck!

Bed Bugs Are Attracted to Your Dirty Clothes, New Study Finds

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With the holidays fast approaching, you might find yourself frantically Googling “how to get rid of bed bugs in luggage,” after discovering you’ve brought home a colony of bed bugs. According to a new study, there’s a way you can reduce the chance a group of these blood-sucking pests hitches a ride in your suitcase.

A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Sheffield in England looked at whether or not leaving your dirty clothes out at a hotel had any effect on the spread of bed bugs. They created two simulations: One room contained clean clothes while the second contained dirty, soiled clothes. The researchers also pumped extra carbon dioxide into one room with clean clothes and one room with dirty clothes to simulate human breathing.

What they found was that in the absence of a human — in this case, the rooms without the added carbon dioxide — bed bugs were twice as likely to collect on the dirty laundry pile. When researchers added carbon dioxide to the room, bed bugs were more likely to leave their hiding spots and begin host-seeking behaviors.

So how can you prevent bed bugs from latching onto your dirty clothes and coming home with you? William Hentley, PhD, one of the lead researchers, writes that there’s a pretty simple solution: “Our study suggests that keeping dirty laundry in a sealed bag, particularly when staying in a hotel, could reduce the chances of people taking bed bugs home with them, which may reduce the spread of infestations.”

You know those space-saving vacuum packs people use for their clothes? Maybe it’s time to stock up before you leave the state to see the family for Thanksgiving. The holidays are a stressful time, and you don’t want to be dealing with bed bugs if you have family staying with you.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Luggage

Let’s say you read this article after you got home, and you, unluckily, caught a case of bed bugs. How do you get rid of bed bugs in your luggage? Here’s your step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Empty our your suitcase.

If you haven’t already, you need to empty the contents of your luggage and place them in sealed bags until you can wash and or sanitize them. Your clothes will need to be washed at a high temperature — at least 120 degrees — to ensure that the bed bugs die.

Step 2: Take your luggage outside and thoroughly vacuum it.

With a stiff brush, you’re going to want to give your suitcase a good scrub to loosen up any dead bed bugs or bed bug eggs that may be clinging to the lining. Once you’ve done that, you need to vacuum the entire thing

Step 3: Mist it with a bed bug spray.

You can find these sprays at stores like Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot, and the like. If you are worried about the pesticide smell lingering, you can rent or purchase a steamer and steam the entire suitcase two or three times to ensure that you get all the bed bugs.

Step 4: Vacuum the suitcase again.

Now that you’ve killed and shaken loose all the bed bugs and egg clusters, you want to vacuum the entire thing again. Once you’re done, remove the vacuum bag and discard it, making sure the garbage bag that its in is knotted tightly so that no bugs can escape.

Step 5: Let your suitcase bake for a little while.

Now that the hard part is done, leave your suitcase out in the sun for a little bit. If you check back and notice that there are still bed bugs, you will have to repeat the process. If you’ve tried multiple times to clean your luggage and nothing has worked, you might want to consider biting the bullet and getting a new suitcase.

How to Deal with Bed Bugs when Travelling

Last updated: April 5, 2019 . Written by Laurence Norah
9 Comments

As a traveller, one thing that is certain is that you are going to be sleeping in many different places. With this comes risk, one of which is to wake up one morning covered in tracks of red bites – the possible mark of bed bug bites!

Of course, your initial thought may be that you’ve been the victim of a highly trained vicious mosquito squadron. But look a little closer – because you may have been the victim of something else entirely, something that is going to get fellow travellers all terribly excitable and probably freak you out too – the fearsomely savage and much feared bed bug.

In today’s post I’m going to share with you some knowledge on bed bugs that I picked up from my time spent working in hospitality, and particularly in a hostel in New Zealand, where a great deal of my time was taken up with activities relating to bed bugs and bed bug management. Which wasn’t on the initial job description.

As a result of that experience I have seen and squished far more bed bugs than any person ought to, and spent tremendous amounts of time peering into tiny cracks looking for the evidence of their presence.

Today I’m going to tell how to know if you’ve been nibbled on by bed bugs, how to look out for signs that you’re not sleeping alone, what to do if you’re bitten by bed bugs, how to get rid of bed bug bites, plus what you can do to deal with the bed bug issue. First though, let’s take a look at some facts about bed bugs.

Bed Bug Facts!

Bed bugs are actually pretty amazing little critters! Here are some quick facts for you:

  • Bed bugs can survive for up to a year without food, particularly when it is cold. They can survive temperatures ranges down to around –32C and up to 45C. When it is cold, they go into a sort of hibernation, and pop out of it when it warms up.
  • In the right conditions it takes one pregnant adult female six months to create an infestation of literally hundreds of thousands of bugs. She is bloody awesome at hiding in the meantime.
  • When it gets warmer, bed bugs reproduce faster. This is why bed bug issues are often commonly associated with warmer countries. In higher temperatures, the reproductive cycle goes from 21 days down to as fast as 8 days.
  • Bed bug sex is not a fun thing for the bed bug female. It involves carapace piercing in order to get the necessary fluids inside her. If I was a bed bug girl, I’d want to go bite someone, too.
  • Bed bugs like other bed bugs. They secrete a pheromone that attracts more bed bugs. Sociable little chaps.
  • Bed bugs are bigger than you might think, particularly in their adult stage, which they reach after five junior stages. And I thought one go at puberty was tough. They grow up to 0.5cm long, easily visible by the naked eye, in their adult stage at least.
  • They are attracted to their victims by carbon dioxide and warmth, amongst other things.
  • Bed bugs love travelling almost as much as you do. They or their eggs will happily hitch a ride in your clothes or on your backpack, and then hop off when they reach somewhere new and exciting with fresh fields of blood filled meat to suck on. This makes eradicating them a bit tricky in a well visited bed!

Which Countries Have Bed Bugs?

The reality is that pretty much every temperate to warm country will have bed bugs. So you’ll find bed bugs in Thailand, bed bugs in Australia, bed bugs in the USA – the list goes on. Basically every continent except Antarctica has bed bugs!

It’s also a worsening problem it seems as we are travelling more and more, and our climate seems to be providing warmer days. These two factors combine to produce the ideal conditions for bed bugs to spread, and for bed bugs to breed!

How to know if you’ve been bitten by bed bugs

People react to bed bug bites, like any other bites, in different ways. You may have been munched upon countless times, and have absolutely nothing to show for it, or you may come up in horrific pustules, blisters, or bumps that look just like mosquito bites. Diagnosis can be tricky! Additionally, for some reason, elderly people barely react at all.

The easiest way to tell though is the classic line pattern that the bed bug leaves behind. This will be a nice straight line of red bumps, that looks like something has methodically chewed you up. And that would be because somethinghasmethodically chewed you up!

Bed bug bite example

Often this will be a line of three bumps, sometimes more, depending on a variety of factors, including whether or not the bug was disturbed during the meal, or if the bug didn’t quite find what it was looking for on the first, second, third.. or.. well, you get the idea.

Bed bug bites can also take a while to appear after you’ve been bitten, sometimes up to a couple of weeks. Which makes working out what bit you and when fairly difficult. Very often, you will discount the bites as nothing more than mozzie bites, and move on with your life.

Bed bugs also tend to bite in areas that aren’t covered, however in tropical areas you’re not likely to be sleeping in much anyway. They also don’t usually target armpits or the back of your knees.

How to spot bed bugs in your hotel room or bed – the warning signs!

There is a bit of a misconception that for a place to have bed bugs, it needs to be dirty, or unkempt, or messy. This sadly isn’t the case – the hostel I worked in for example was absolutely fanatic about cleanliness and bed bug management, and we still had the odd bug.

Of course, if your chosen accommodation doesn’t care too much about basic things like cleanliness or tidiness, then you can be pretty damn sure that they aren’t that bothered about bed bugs either. So the two can be linked, even if one doesn’t cause the other.

So how to tell if you might not be sleeping alone? Here are some ways to spot bed bugs:

  • Bed bugs are fairly shy and retiring creatures. They mostly come out at night. In the day time they like to hide, not too far away from their evening meal. Obvious places to look therefore include in your bed frame, and anywhere near the bed that harbours cracks that they can squeeze into. Curtain rails, skirting boards, door frames – even the heads of screws. You get the idea.
  • Bed bugs secrete a black gooey substance. You might find this on the bed sheets after you have been bitten. You can also look for it on the bed frame. Lots of black goo around a hole or crack indicates the likely presence of our friends. If it is recent, you will be able to easily smear it with your fingers.
  • Bed bugs have a distinctive aroma, which is how they attract other bed bugs. It’s a bit like the smell of a stink bug.
  • Bed bugs have six different sizes, from the super tiny to the fairly large. So there are a variety of body shapes and sizes to look out for.
  • Bed bugs are not excited by heat or excess amounts of carbon dioxide. If you think there are bed bugs in a hole, you could try breathing into it, or blowing a hair dryer into it on a low setting. This may force them out of hiding, or boil them in their shells. Whichever works for you. It may also distribute bed bug eggs all over the room.
  • You may find blood stains on the bed after you’ve been bitten. However, you can get these with any bite, so it’s not a guarantee of bed bugs.

What to do if you think you’ve been bitten by bed bugs

If you think you have been bitten by bed bugs in a hotel or other accommodation, the first thing is not to panic. Whilst the bites can be itchy and annoying, bed bugs are not currently known to carry any actual diseases.

So in that sense, you are better off having been bitten by a bed bug than a mosquito.

Photo CDC/ Harvard University, Dr. Gary Alpert; Dr. Harold Harlan;

You should, of course, mention to your host that you think you have been bitten. There are two main reasons to do this:

  • If the problem is with the place you are currently at, then they need to know so that they can do something about it
  • If you were bitten somewhere else, there is a possibility that you have brought the eggs or bugs with you. They therefore need to keep an eye out for future problems. Be aware that they are unlikely to thank you for this.

When you inform your host, a variety of things will happen. It is very likely that, even if the accommodation believes itself to have bed bugs, it will deny this. Admitting to having bed bugs is akin to admitting you have the plague, due to the bad reputation these critters carry.

So unless you have the dead body to prove your case, don’t expect too much in the way of liability being admitted.

Additionally, as the bites can take so long to come up, the accommodation provider may actually have a point, in that you could have brought a problem into their previously clean environment. This is a great way to make you feel guilty and thus shut you up. After all, who is going to tell their friends that they may be a carrier of bed bugs?

What you should see, if they are at all bothered / professional / caring are some efforts by the accommodation provider to find any problems.

Where I worked, if someone seemed to have an issue, we would take their room apart, literally. Bed frames would be disassembled, and any bugs we found would be squished. We also used a heat gun to sterilise cracks in wood or metal. However, if we found bugs or eggs, this was never disclosed to guests.

How to Treat Bed Bug Bites

Treating bed bug bites is much the same as treating any other bites. The application of topical anti-histamine creams or ingestion of anti histamine is about the best you can do. A bite is a sign of an allergic reaction, and anti-histamine can help.

Try not to scratch the bites – your nails are dirty and this will lead to infection.

If you have reacted particularly badly, then get yourself down to the doctors where they may be able to help out with more powerful creams or pills.

Ultimately though, it’s going to be a waiting game where you’ll just have to wait for the bites to subside.

How to Prevent Bed Bugs

If you are travelling, as previously mentioned, it can be hard to prevent bed bugs as you are not in control of the situation.

However, you can stop yourself from taking bed bugs home, and take preventative measures in your home.

The first thing you’ll want to do when travelling is to get used to inspecting the accommodation you are staying in for bed bugs. If there are signs of bed bugs, you should ask for another room, or consider another property. If the room has bed bugs, it is very likely that some of these bugs might get into your luggage, and that you will take them home with you.

You also can take some preventative measures like spraying your luggage with one of the bed bug sprays mentioned further on in the post. You might also want to invest in a heating device which will heat your luggage up above a temperature which kills bed bugs, thus sanitizing your belongings.

For your home, we would suggest investing in mattress covers for your beds. This stops bed bugs getting into the mattress, which is one of the most common places for them to hide. It also means you don’t need to discard of your mattress if you do get bed bugs, which can be costly if you have a nice mattress. See here for another well reviewed mattress protector.

The main thing to consider is how bed bugs might get into your property. The most common ways are for you to bring them back from a trip in your luggage, or for guests to bring them when they visit. Mattress covers can help in guest rooms, and careful inspection of your guests room after they leave is also a wise idea.

Another common vector for bed bugs is through furniture. We would advise against buying second hand furniture for this reason, as it can be very hard to tell if it is home to bed bugs.

There are a range of other products to help you deal with bed bugs in the home. These include electronic ultrasonic repelling devices, bed bug traps for your bed legs, and diatomaceous earth, which is a non-toxic substance that kills insects.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

The bad news about bed bugs is that in a well visited environment like a hostel or hotel, it is pretty much impossible to eradicate bed bugs.

This is because even if you were able to find and kill every last egg, nymph and adult from the premises, all it takes is one new arrival with a pregnant adult female to turn up, and the problem starts all over again. In a warm climate where the bugs can breed quickly, the problem is only going to be worse.

In such an environment, the best that can be done is to try to manage and stay on top of the problem. Regular inspections of sleeping areas, blocking up inviting cracks and the occasional use of some sort of anti-bed bug chemicals are the best that can be done so that the issue stays small – akin to a few mosquitoes flying in through a window at night, rather than spiralling out of control into a serious infestation.

Speaking of chemicals, another problem arises. The most effective chemicals for properly killing off the whole bed bug lifecycle are also not exactly human friendly. Fumigating a room is actually therefore more hazardous to human health than a few bites is ever going to be – and in fact more people have probably died from reactions to the anti bed bug chemicals than from actual bed bug bites. However, there are some non-toxic options, one of which I have listed below.

Products to help you deal with Bed Bugs

There are some products you can get to help stop that most nightmare of all situations – taking the bed bugs from your travels to your home, as well as other sprays for killing bugs generally.

  • EcoRaider is one of the better natural options for killing bed bugs. This is available from the manufacturer, and also on eBay here. In a study by the US Entomological Society of America, this was the only natural bed-bug killing product that effectively killed both bed bug nymphs and bed bug eggs
  • The other recommended product from the above study is this Bed Bug Spray by Bed Bug Patrol, available on Amazon. This was also successful against bed bugs. It’s also highly rated by commentators, as well as being both organic and non-toxic.
  • This is another well rated natural product available on Amazon
  • Electronic repellers like this work by emitting ultrasonic sounds to deter a range of insects, including bed bugs
  • There are a wealth of other options also available from both Amazon.com and UK.
  • This Travel Sized Luggage Spray by Bed Bug Patrol on Amazon.com is designed to help protect you from bringing the bed bugs back from your travels – possibly the worst outcome of any bed bug encounter!

If you do have a problem in your home, it is likely that you will have to call in professionals to fully clean out your house. They will use all sorts of nasty chemicals, and you will probably have to move out for a while. That is the only way to really sort out the problem once and for all.

And that is that for bed bugs! If you’ve got any comments, questions or experiences to share from your travels, including horrific photos, don’t be afraid to share them below! Otherwise happy travels, and remember, sleep tight.. don’t let the bed bugs bite!

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About the authors

Laurence and Jessica Norah are the British-American travel blogging couple behind photography & adventure travel blog Finding the Universe and luxury / couples travel blog Independent Travel Cats.

We’ve been running this site since 2010. We’re full time professional travel bloggers, and we visit all the places we write about personally. All our content is based on our own first hand travel experiences, and we take all the photos you see on our sites. Read more about us here.

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There are 9 comments on this post

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Does regular bug spray kill them? I’ve gotten bit in Sarajevo and no clue where to find bed bug spray for my luggage.

As far as I know, no it doesn’t. They are tough critters to kill!

I have read all sorts of post about bedbugs and none of them say anything about bedbugs being in your vehicle so my question is if you Go to someone’s house for a couple hours that has bedbugs and then get in your vehicle are you and your vehicle contaminated

Laurence Norah says

It’s hard to answer this. Bedbugs are more likely to be transported on luggage rather than people, so if you don’t take anything into the house, it is unlikely they will jump on you and then into your car and then on into your house. And as there isn’t a source of food in the car, it’s not an attractive place to live for them either. So I would say that the chances are low, but not impossible of course.

Thank you for telling a blog about dealing with bed bug as traveler. It is very much a serious issue. The information provided is very relevant.

Laurence Norah says

Great tips on how to clean a room with suspected bugs – would love some recommendations for those who have been bitten in hotels and are now fearful of bringing them home! I am covered in bed bug bites after backpacking through South America and now am terrified I will introduce them to my own bed and have no idea what to do!

Laurence Norah says

So the only thing that really works is heat – bugs can’t handle temperatures higher than 117F – 122F. So your best option is to wash everything you can (clothes, bag etc..) at a high heat. If you have items you can’t heat to that temperature, the safest option is to throw them out 🙁

Pets and Bedbugs: How to Safely Get Rid of the Bedbugs

by Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

Once considered the bastion of shady motels in crowded cities, an indicator of poor housekeeping or dirt, bed bugs have quickly become a ubiquitous pest affecting even the most steadfast lodgings and homes. After a decrease in appearances after WWII, bed bugs have come back with a vengeance since the 1990s and are again considered a major public health pest. Cleanliness or the cost of the lodging are no deterrent to these bugs, which are found in all 50 states.

What Are Bed Bugs, Exactly?

Bed bugs, also known by their scientific nameCimex lectularius L., are parasitic creatures that use blood as their sole source of nutrition. They feed on warm-blooded animals. According to the California Department of Public Health, while bed bugs prefer humans, they will feed on dogs and cats as well. Adults are 5-7 mm long, about the length of an apple seed, and are flat—a shape that is ideal for hiding in bed frames, molding, and box springs. Most bed bug bites happen at night. A bed bug will attach to its host to feed for about five minutes and then detach, meaning it is very unlikely that you will find an actual bed bug on a person or pet.

Can a Bed Bug Make Me or My Pet Ill?

Fortunately for both people and pets, bed bugs are not known to transmit disease. Some people or animals develop red welts or itchy lesions, which are often mistaken for flea or mosquito bites. So while they can cause discomfort and significant mental distress, bed bugs won’t give you or your pets diseases, though in severe cases scratching can lead to secondary skin infections. Many times people don’t notice bites at all.

How Do You Get Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are hardy hitchhikers. Many unsuspecting travelers pick one up on the road and bring it home in their luggage, unwittingly setting up an infestation. A fed female bed bug can lay between 2-5 eggs a day, meaning one single bug in your roller-bag, gym bag, or even in your pants cuff, can lead to an infestation at home. Once an infestation is established, their propensity to hide in nooks and crannies can make them very difficult to eradicate.

According to the 2015 Bugs Without Borders Survey, the top three places where bed bugs are found are apartments, single family homes, and hotels/motels, though they are also found in dorms, nursing homes, modes of public transport, and even hospitals. They can survive temperatures from freezing to 122°F and make it several months without eating, making them good survivors in a world that doesn’t want them around.

What Are the Signs of a Bed Bug Infestation?

While it is possible to find a live bed bug on yourself or your pet, most of the time people notice secondary signs of infestation before locating a live bug. In the house, you may notice any of the following: translucent shed exoskeletons, black spots of bug droppings , or red blood stains on your bed sheets. On people or pets, you may not notice bites at all, or you may see red welts, oftentimes in a line.

Live bugs range in color from rust to bright red depending on whether or not they have recently fed. They aggregate around wood features but can hide in bed frames, box springs, papers on the floor, curtain rods, even small wallpaper creases that have pulled away from the wall. In one instance, bed bugs were even located in a man’s prosthetic leg!

How Do You Get Rid of Bed Bugs?

Because it takes so few to create an infestation, and also because they are so well dispersed in hard-to-reach places, bed bugs are notoriously difficult to eradicate. Generally, the best outcomes happen when treatment is assisted by a pest-care professional. The first step is determining where the bed bugs are located. While the bedroom is most common, bed bugs also frequently found in living rooms. Infestations can begin in one room and move to others over time.

Seventy percent of infestations are located around beds, so much of the process focuses on treating those areas. Bedding is washed in hot water, mattresses are encased in bed bug-proof covers, and bed frames are treated with both vacuuming to remove the larger adults and nymphs, and chemical treatment to kill the eggs. If bed bugs are found in other areas, such as dressers, the same process is repeated there. If it sounds time consuming or difficult, that’s because, unfortunately, it is.

Many different products are labeled for use in eradicating bed bugs. In general, foggers are not effective as they do not penetrate the areas bed bugs like to hide. Sprays that are applied directly to affected areas have the advantage of striking exactly where they need to go. Because of the variety of products on the market, it is vital to read both the label and the safety data sheet for the product, which can be found online. None of the products should be applied directly to pets. Again, professional assistance can save you a lot of headaches in that regard.

We Have Bed Bugs! Will Treating Them Hurt My Pet?

I spoke to the professionals at Corky’s Pest Control, who have lots of experience in safely eradicating bed bugs in family homes. There are many options available, depending on the severity of the infestation and the needs of the owners, from heat treatments to fumigations to chemical applications. The suggested course of treatment can vary from household to household and from company to company.

For households with dogs and cats, Corky’s most commonly uses a chemical application to affected areas, which necessitates about 4-6 hours of keeping the pet away from the house. A severe case requiring fumigation would require the entire family to be out of the home for three days. They also stressed that certain pets, such as birds and reptiles, can have different sensitivities to environmental pesticides, so it’s vital to ensure the treatment you select is safe for your specific menagerie.

If you are dealing with bed bugs, take a deep breath; you’re not alone. With a little elbow grease, you can return your house to being in a bed bug-free state.

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