For years, the common nursery rhyme and bedtime saying, “Don’t let the bedbugs bite!” probably felt like a relic of a day long past. Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, bed bug cases were rare. Unfortunately, bed bugs have made a big comeback in recent years. As certain harmful pesticides were banned and the bugs gained more resistance to the ones that remained, bed bugs took advantage of being forgotten about to spread throughout the United States. As it once did many decades ago, the idea of a bed bug infestation strikes fear into the heart of any homeowner today.
Unlike roaches, rodents, and many other types of pests, bed bugs typically do not infect homes by coming in from the outside environment. Instead, they rely on humans to unknowingly transport them to new feeding grounds. If you want to avoid a bed bug infestation this fall, you need to take action to avoid carrying them and call in a pest professional if you suspect you have accidentally brought them into your home.
Why is fall a critical time for bed bug transmission?
There’s a lot of travel happening in the fall. In the early part of the season, homeowners are returning from late summer vacations where they stayed in different hotels, potentially exposing their belongings to bed bugs. Students are headed to college dorms and then back home to do their laundry (we’ve all been there, right?), and bed bugs can hitch a ride in those dirty socks and college tees. As the season progresses, business travel picks up and the holidays arrive. Thanksgiving travel and accommodations are an ideal opportunity for bed bugs to find new homes.
Bed bug cases then typically reach their peak during the winter and the holiday season, where travel is at its highest.
Be bed bug smart
When traveling, keep these tips in mind, and you’ll greatly reduce your chance of transmitting an infestation back to your home:
- Rethink your assumptions: Many people make the mistake of thinking that bed bugs are only present in dirty, rundown motels. Unlike roaches, however, bed bugs have little preference for cheap motels versus 5-star hotels. If there are beds and humans they can draw blood from, bed bugs are open to colonizing that space.
- Check the hotel bed: Before you sit, lay down, or put any luggage on the bed, perform a bed bug check. Lift the mattress and look underneath for bed bugs, which are typically near the head of the bed. Pull back the sheets and look for any dark red spots. If there are any bed bugs, signs of bed bugs, or something doesn’t feel right, talk to hotel management and request a new room.
- Quarantine your personal items: Most bed bugs hitch a ride in luggage and dirty clothes. When staying in a hotel, keep your luggage elevated on a hard surface, such as a luggage rack, a dresser, or a table.
- Purge when you return: It’s a good habit to immediately wash and dry your clothes directly from the suitcase when you get home. Avoid bringing the luggage or any of the clothes onto carpet, furniture, or beds until the clothes have been exposed to 30 minutes in the dryer on a heated setting.
What should you do if you suspect you have bed bugs?
An unwelcome hitchhiker can quickly become a bed bug infestation in your home. If you suspect that you have brought home bed bugs with you, you’ll want to call our team immediately. We offer free bed bug inspections here in the Valley. If the infestation is caught early, the bed bugs can be quarantined to a specific part of your home, which limits the disruption of bed bug treatments.
Don’t try to fight a bed bug infestation on your own. Bed bugs are a relatively hardy pest that is well-adapted to life with humans. Without the help of a professional, treating bed bugs will feel like playing a game of “whack-a-mole” at the local arcade—you’ll think you’ve dealt with the infestation only to find bed bugs popping back up in a new part of your home. This can induce a state of panic and paranoia for homeowners. It’s just not worth it.
Again, if you think your home might have a bed bug problem, you’ll want to call in the experts. Here in Phoenix and Casa Grande, the team at Arizona’s Best Choice Pest & Termite Services offers free bed bug inspections, and we’re known Valley-wide for our expert, effective bed bug treatment. Give us a call today!