Bed bugs are prolific travelers. They don’t even know they’re doing it; it just so happens bed bugs are natural hitchhikers. Inadvertent ride-alongs actually make up the #1 way bed bugs spread. Travelers accidentally transport bugs in suitcases or bags, spreading them from place-to-place in the process.
The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year for traveling. Chances are you have family coming to you, you’re going to family, or both! If there are any bed bugs at one of your destinations, they could easily end up at all of your destinations. They could, but they don’t have to. Here’s how to make sure you don’t wind up schlepping pests all over the place this holiday season.
Choose What to Bring
Bed bugs have definite preferences when it comes to their infestation sites. They like darkness, tight or confined places, warmth, moisture, and safety. When bed bugs infest bedding, they use their flat bodies to reach tight, hidden parts of the bed. They can even cling onto sheets and cloth using hook-like leg claws. Most importantly, bed bugs are really good at finding the things bed bugs like. That means you have to get good at finding that stuff, too.
Before you leave on your trip, lay out everything you’re planning to take with you. Does any of it look like prime bed bug real estate? Bedding, sheets, pillows, cloth, and old backpacks can all attract bed bugs looking for a place to settle in. If you’re particularly worried about a certain item, consider leaving it behind! Packing light for Holiday trips is good general advice, but it’s especially important when combating the bed bug menace.
Inspect, Inspect, Inspect!
Of course, there are going to be some articles of luggage you really can’t leave behind. You need clothes, somewhere to put those clothes, and toiletries. Depending on how long you’ll be gone, you may need a lot of these things. If you can’t part with a particularly bed bug-vulnerable item, then you need to keep an eye on it.
Thoroughly inspect each piece of luggage you take on your trip before leaving. Check all the angles, open it up, shake it out, and scrape out the nooks and crannies. The trick to successfully finding bed bugs is patience and attention to detail. You have to think like a bed bug. It sounds a little extreme, but imagine your relief when you preemptively prevent a bed bug infestation conspiracy. Remember: you’re not just saving yourself, either–you could be saving your whole family!
Elevate and Seal
You should practice good anti-bed bug practices while you’re actually staying at your destination, too. Pay attention to where you’re keeping your luggage and other belongings. Bed bugs are surprisingly sneaky. If you aren’t careful, they could easily sneak into or onto your belongings while you’re not looking. Inspecting your luggage after bed bugs have infiltrated it might flush them out… but the best way to prevent infestation is stopping bed bugs from getting into your stuff in the first place.
First, a no brainer: keep your bags of luggage closed whenever you’re not using them. Make sure they’re zipped up or clamped all the way closed, because bed bugs can squeeze through the smallest openings. It also helps to store bags and luggage elevated off the ground, especially if they don’t close. Keep any loose clothing in airtight plastic traveling bags. It goes without saying, but make sure you know where all your stuff is at all times.
Give It the Heat Treatment
It’s ironic, given their predilection for cozy bedding, but heat is the best way to kill bed bugs. Temperatures exceeding 120℉ will kill any bed bugs in a matter of minutes. Heat treatments even kill bed bug eggs, which means it permanently ends infestations, rather than just delaying them. Now, it might sound like we’re asking you to torch your stuff. While that would (admittedly) definitely do the trick, there are easier and safer ways to kill bed bugs.
When you arrive at one of your destinations, ask if you can borrow the dryer. Unpack your belongings and then immediately throw everything you can safety dry into the appliance. Run it on the highest heat settings for about 20 to 30 minutes. That much heat and time will definitely kill any bed bugs that snuck onto your luggage. Just be sure you don’t accidentally run anything through the dryer that absolutely shouldn’t be. Otherwise, bed bugs could be the least of your worries!
If you follow these tips, we’re sure you’ll thwart every infestation plot even the sneakiest bed bugs can muster. Unfortunately, however, traveling is a hectic process, and the craziness of the Holiday season doesn’t help, either. Chaos can be unavoidable, and bed bugs thrive in it.
If you need up with a bed bug infestation this Holiday season, or any other type of pest infestation for that matter, no need to stress or feel guilty. Just give Plunkett’s a call any time and we promise you’ll head into the new year pest-free. Happy Holidays!BACK TO BLOG