Avoid hitchhiking bed bugs during summer travels

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EDMOND Do you like to travel? It turns out, bed bugs do, too. With summer just around the corner, family vacation season will soon be in full swing, and that means being prepared to avoid picking up any unwelcome passengers.

Bed bugs cant fly or jump, but they are fantastic hitchhikers, said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist. Taking a few simple precautions as you travel can cut your risk of exposure to this annoying pest.

Adult bed bugs are about the size and shape of an apple seed. Mainly active at night, they need a blood meal to survive and feed almost exclusively on humans. Reactions to being bitten vary from person to person. Some people have no reaction, while others may experience itchy, red welts or localized swelling within a day or two.

One way to cut your exposure to bed bugs while traveling is to check your motel or hotel room for signs of the pests before settling in, said Debbie Bell, Oklahoma County CNEP Area Coordinator. Start by storing your suitcases in the clean, dry bathtub or leaving your luggage just outside the room.

Heavily infested rooms could smell sweet or musty like rotten raspberries and/or moldy shoes. The odor most likely will be strongest under the headboard and mattress.

Take a deep breath. If something smells off, dont hesitate to ask for another room, Bell stated.

Bed bugs are commonly found in beds and sleeping areas. Most bed bugs hide within 15 feet of the bed and are most likely to be found at the top of the bed.

Carefully pull back the blankets, sheets and mattress pad at the top of the bed to search for eggs, bugs, blood and black fecal spots, which are signs of a bed bug infestation. Pay close attention to the box springs; headboards; and seams, tufts and crevices of mattresses.

Bed bugs also can make themselves at home in upholstered chairs and sofas, especially if the furniture is used for sleeping, as well as in the cracks, crevices and recesses of nightstands and dressers.

Check the luggage rack for signs of the pests by looking on and under the straps.

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Avoid hitchhiking bed bugs during summer travels

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