5 Myths About Bedbugs & Travel
Friday, April 15, 2011
The recent bedbug comeback
has spurred a surge in industry
research and consumer education. That said, bedbugs are still the
subject of hyped-up paranoia and confounding myths. So much so that
some are wondering, "Should I delay my travels? Should I step
outside my front door?"
Experts from the National Pest Management
the American Hotel & Lodging Association
(www.ahla.com), and the New
York State Integrated Pest Management (www.nysipm.cornell.edu) help separate
fact from fiction.
Myth #1: Bedbugs transmit disease.
Bedbugs have gained a reputation as a widespread nuisance: their
bites produce itching and burning, they spread at a vigorous pace
(females hatch 400 eggs in their lifetime), and they're difficult
to quash completely (they can live up to a year without feeding and
can withstand every temperature from near-freezing to 113°F.) But
luckily, that's the worst of it. Unlike mosquitoes and ticks, the
blood-feeding pests don't transmit diseases, and no such case has
been reported thus far.
Myth #2: Bedbugs are a product of bad
People think that spic-and-span environments don't draw bedbugs.
But fact is, the main element of attraction is high occupancy. In
other words, where there's food (i.e. humans), bedbugs will
multiply, regardless of the level of cleanliness. This means
travelers may encounter bedbugs while staying at a hole-in-the-wall
motel -- or an über-luxe resort.
Myth #3: Once a bedbug, always a bedbug.
Places don't breed bedbugs. People transport them there. Use
directories like the National Bed Bug Registry
(www.bedbugregistry.com) -- which reports
user-submitted incidents -- with caution, as a past infestation
doesn't imply an ongoing one. Image-conscious hotels and other
businesses hate the bad press and are unlikely to leave a pest
problem untreated without the intention of going bust.
Myth #4: Infestations can be kept at bay with
A variety of bedbug control products have hit the consumer
market, some undoubtedly designed for peace of mind. But be sure to
read the label carefully before investing: what does the product
claim? Keep in mind that sprays may eliminate bedbugs -- but only
the ones that you see (the out-of-view survivors may kick-start
another infestation.) Other sprays may kill the pests but not their
eggs. Meanwhile, mattress encasements will seal bedbugs in or keep
them out. But those sneaky bloodsuckers may find other places to
lurk -- like behind the headboard, in your suitcase, or on a couch.
When in doubt, consult a pest control professional.
Myth #5: I can't do anything about bedbugs.
The main method of bedbug transportation is human hitchhiking,
therefore education is key in preventing infestations. Take the
time to implement a few precautionary measures. For example: don't
unpack until carefully inspecting your room, store clothing and
personal items in plastic bags, and wash and dry clothes on
high-heat settings when returning from your travels.