As you travel this holiday season you may be wondering, can bed bugs travel? Bed bugs can be transported from place to place, and they’re not picky about their accommodations. You can find these tiny blood-sucking parasites anywhere there is a human or animal host, from upscale penthouses to community homeless shelters. Before packing your bags for your upcoming travels, learn more about bed bugs and how to steer clear of them.
How Bed Bugs Spread
Bed bugs can live on clothing, bedding, and furniture, and in mattresses, luggage, and other items in which they can remain undetected. These infuriating insects prefer to hide in cracks and crevices until it’s time to feed. This is when they materialize in attempt to leech off a human or animal host, leaving a trail of rash-like bite marks in their path. Due to their small size, it can take time for a person to realize that their home has been invaded.
Contrary to popular belief, bed bugs do not travel via the human or animal body. In fact, they do not like any form of heat. Unlike ticks and lice that stick to the skin or hair, bed bugs prefer to travel via items like luggage, backpacks, clothing, and shoes. The bugs can also be present in suitcases, boxes, and other types of containers used to move items from home-to-home or from hotel-to-home. Once home, they crawl along surfaces and can contaminate multiple rooms.
What to Look For
It’s not always easy to spot bed bugs at first, but once an infestation develops, the signs are blatantly clear. Bed bugs appear as brownish, oval insects with flat bodies. While only the size of an apple seed, these minuscule blood-suckers swell up after a hefty meal, turning a reddish hue. While bed bugs cannot fly, they can move quickly across walls, ceilings, and floors. They tend to bite at night while the victim is asleep, leaving the following signs of their presence:
- Multiple welts, typically in a zig-zag formation
- Skin that itches over the rash-like bites
- Tiny specks of blood, usually found on the bedding
It’s not uncommon for bed bug bites not to itch right away. In some instances, it takes time for the body to develop an allergic reaction to the bites. Some individuals may not experience any type of itchy welt for several days following the incident, while others may not feel the effects of a bed bug bite for up to 14 days. Individuals who are frequently exposed to bed bugs may become increasingly sensitive to the bites.
How to Avoid Bed Bugs
So how do you prevent bringing these small pests home? While it’s not always easy, there are several precautionary measures you can take to prevent the spread of bed bugs. Upon arrival to your hotel room or other accommodation, take the time to inspect the space for live or dead insects, eggs, or blood stains. The bugs may also emit a sweet, musty odor.
To reduce the risk of bed bugs entering your personal items, elevate your luggage on a non-upholstered surface. Do not bring along your own linen, bedding, or pillows, as this increases the odds of the bugs coming home with you. It’s also wise to pack some sealable plastic garbage bags for your personal items if you think that they may have been contaminated. As you’re packing your luggage before check-out, examine your items again for any signs of bed bugs.
Bed bugs can easily be spread from place to place, and once home, can be very difficult to get rid of. Fortunately, treatment is available for home’s that have succumb to bed bug infestations. Heat treatment for bed bugs is usually your best bet for ridding your home of live bugs and eggs, and is safer to use than chemical treatments. For assistance removing bed bugs form your home, contact your local bed bug exterminator.