Don't Give Bed Bugs a Ride Home
Saturday, July 23, 2011
What you want to bring home from vacation: souvenirs.
What you don't want to bring home from vacation:
Particularly the tiny, four-legged kind that come out at night
to suck your blood, warned Kevin Kordek, immediate past president
of the National Pest Management Association and owner of A-Active
Termite and Pest Control in Virginia Beach.
He's talking about the pests that are increasingly finding their
way home with travelers: bedbugs.
Once you get them, look out: "They're very hard to get rid of,"
Being proactive is essential in the battle against bringing
Search reviews on www.tripadvisor.com before selecting
accommodations, he said. Then, play it safe by packing clothes in
sealable plastic bags.
When you reach your vacation destination, thoroughly check for
signs of those pesky little bugs, Kordek said.
"Don't unpack," he said. "Examine the beds, and know what you're
Pull down the top sheet to the mattress level. Bedbugs like to
lodge in cracks, crevices and folds. Even check the pleats of
If you see any tiny dark or reddish spots the size of small
apple seeds, it's time to re-group. Ask for another room, or move
to another destination.
Even if you don't see signs of bedbugs, still take precautions,
Jim Murphy, president of the Tidewater Pest Control Association,
which has about 75 local members, agreed.
"They are definitely out there, from the five-star to the
Murphy said he keeps his suitcase away from the wall when he
reaches his destination, and doesn't unpack or place anything in
the drawers, noting, "They can be anywhere."
National Pest Management Association
spokeswoman Missy Henriksen said the least likely place to find
bedbugs is the bathroom, and suggests placing luggage there before
making your bedbug inspection.
"No suitcases on the floor or on the second bed," she
Kids can bring bedbugs home from camp, dorms, anywhere, Murphy
said. So, don't take those suitcases in the house upon arrival
home, he said.
Unpack and vacuum them out in the garage or an outdoor space,
Kordek said. Backpacks, diaper bags and purses should also be given
the same care.
"Wash and dry clothes immediately," Murphy said. "Drying is key;
heat will kill."
And if your suitcase or duffle bag fits in the dryer, throw it
in, too. Even apparel not worn should be run through the dryer, or
if required, taken to the dry cleaners.
The national association and the University of Kentucky
conducted a study last year and found that the occurrence of
bedbugs is increasing.
Reasons cited were increased travel, more immigration, changing
pest-control products and methods, and resistance to available
insecticides. Other factors noted were lack of awareness about how
to identify the bugs and not knowing what precautions to take.
Fortunately, Hampton Roads doesn't have a serious bedbug
problem, Kodek said. And the likelihood of encountering bedbugs is
relatively small, Henrikson added.
The key is to be vigilant, Korkek said"Pretend like you're going
to be the victim
Use this guide from the National Pest Control association to
prevent a bedbug infestation.
* At hotels, pull back the sheets and inspect the mattress
seams, particularly at the corners, for telltale stains or spots.
If you see anything suspect, change rooms or establishments
* Thoroughly inspect the entire room before unpacking, including
behind the headboard and in sofas/chairs. If any pests are spotted,
change rooms or establishments immediately.
* If you do need to change rooms, be sure that you do not move
to a room adjacent and/or directly above/below the suspected
infestation. As bedbugs can easily hitchhike via housekeeping
carts, luggage and even through wall sockets, if an infestation is
spreading, it typically does so in the rooms closest to the
* Consider placing your suitcase in a plastic trash bag during
the duration of your trip to ensure that bedbugs cannot take up
* After traveling, inspect your suitcases before bringing them
into the house. Vacuum your suitcase thoroughly before storing
* Wash all of your clothes - even those not worn -in hot water
to ensure that any bedbugs that may have made it that far are not
placed into your drawers/closet. If you don't want to wash, send
clothes through the dryer.