Bed bugs can be a huge burden for home and business owners alike and the sheer thought of these blood sucking insects is enough to keep anyone up all night. These crawling insects can deliver a multitude of aggravating bites which can itch for hours, and can sometimes be particularly troublesome to control.
There have been reports in recent years of passengers being bitten by more than the travel bug. Unlike other common pests such as rodents and cockroaches, bed bugs need blood to survive, relying heavily on it to complete their life cycle. This makes us the perfect midnight snack for these blood sucking creatures whilst we sleep.
How do you get bed bugs?
Since the early 2000s there has been a drastic increase in the number of bed bug infestations around the globe. In Ireland, 2016 sees 80% increase in bed bug infestation, compared to the same period in 2015. There are four factors that have led to the rise in bed bugs:
- Global travel: Hotels and other overnight accommodation facilities play an important part in the spread of bed bugs. The increase in global travel has led to these facilities receiving a high amount of human traffic. This allows bed bugs to spread easily, discreetly travelling from one premises to another. The number of tourists visiting Ireland increased by 44% between 2000 and 2016. In particular, Irish tourism has seen a record-breaking year in 2016. There is a lot to celebrate as the most recent CSO figures show that 8.9 million overseas visitors have visited Ireland in 2016, up 11% on 2015.
- New accommodation: According to Fitzpatrick Associates, the amount of new registered and approved accommodation has steadily increased on a yearly basis. Taking Dublin as a typical example, the number of Dublin visitor accommodation supply demand is predicted to increase by 3% by 2020. This does not take into account the increasing demand and supply in new accommodation models such as AirBnB. These factors potentially contribute to an increase in the number of callouts for bed bug infestation in Ireland.
- Lack of awareness: Many people don’t know how to identify bed bugs, how to treat bed bug bites or how to cope with infestations at home and when travelling.
- Second-hand furniture sales: In recent years, there has also been an increase in the sale of second-hand furniture. Purchasing such products for your home can also put you at risk of bed bugs. Furniture, such as beds and sofas, provide bed bugs with a stable and safe place to hide and crucially close to a food source. Purchasing a piece of furniture which has a bed bug problem can result in you unknowingly bringing bed bugs into your own home.
How to check hotel room for bed bugs
So you’ve learnt about the role hotels and travel play in the spread of bed bugs, but how can you prevent this?
Contrary to their name, bed bugs are not only found in beds. Easily transportable in clothing and baggage, these insects can thrive in just about any crack or crevice. Rarely seen in the day, they hide their paper-thin bodies in all kinds of furniture.
When staying in a hotel, motel, or any other overnight accommodation whilst on holiday, inspecting the room for bed bugs can help ensure you don’t find yourself giving these biting insects a free ride back to your home.
Read more how to prevent bug on airplanes
How to avoid bed bugs when you travel
You all like to get a restful sleep and nice DREAM when you travel this:
- Do a survey of the bed to see if there are any telltale indications of infestation, such as noticeable spots on the mattress or bed clothes.
- Raise the mattress and the bed itself. The bedbugs are more likely to be hiding there during the day.
- Elevate your belongings. Don’t leave them lying on the floor or bed. Use luggage racks or tables.
- Analyse your belongings when you get home. Did you bring back any unexpected passenger bugs with you?
- Machine-dry your clothes in a hot dryer to ensure no bedbugs are snuggling up in them.
Use luggage stands with caution
Luggage stands in hotel rooms are a hot spot for bed bug activity. Bed bugs often use luggage to travel and infest a new home. Because of this, luggage stands are often the first point of contact for bed bugs.
When staying in a hotel it’s a good idea to store your luggage in the ensuite bathroom whilst carrying out an inspection of a room, and during the whole stay. This can drastically reduce the risk of bringing bed bugs home with you.
Prevent bed bugs when returning from a trip
When you get back home, remember to use your WITS:
- Wash your bed clothes at a temperature of at least 60℃, and if possible place the items into a tumble dryer for at least 30 minutes. Bed bugs aren’t great survivors in high temperatures. Washing clothing will help eliminate both adult bed bugs and bed bug eggs, reducing the risk of a bed bug in your home.
- Inspect your luggage, clothes, beds and furniture for signs of infestation. And remember to check after visitors too.
- Tidy your rooms. You can see signs of infestation more clearly when your rooms are clean and tidy.
- Send old clothes and linens to charity shops. Don’t leave them lying around in closets. If you don’t wear it, you don’t need it.