Bed Bug Resources
Bed bugs are an ongoing problem that each of us need to be on the lookout for when traveling. From luxury high-end resorts to budget roadside motels, bed bugs do not discriminate with their presence. By taking precautions, you can lower your potential risk of accidentally letting these pests hitch a ride in your luggage and coming back home with you!
Hotel Bed Bug Tips
1 Stash Your Bags While You Search
Put your luggage in the bathroom while you inspect the room–this is the place in the room where bed bugs are least likely to be.
2 Check the Bed
Pull back the linens and check all the way around the mattress. Check inside any folds of the mattress or in any piping around the edges. Also be sure to look under the mattress and behind the headboard. Look for blood stains or small black dots that look like mold or ground pepper.
3 Check the Room
Search the area immediately surrounding the bed including behind picture frames, under the telephone and alarm clock, and in any books in the nightstand. Studies have shown that most bedbugs are found in or within 15 feet of a bed, but some may still be further away. Search the cushions and seams of any couches or soft chairs. Check the closet before putting your clothes away.
4 Keep Your Luggage Off The Ground
Don’t place your bags on the floor or on the second spare bed. Since bed bugs tend to hide near the soft furnishings in the room, this is the most likely place where your luggage will pick up bed bug hitchhikers. The best place to keep your bags is on a metal luggage rack. If no luggage rack is available, place them on top of a dresser or on the desktop. Be sure to hang any clothes up in the closet and avoid leaving clothes on soft chairs or couches, the bed, or on the floor.
Identifying Bed Bugs
Bed bugs themselves are about the size and shape of an apple seed. The bugs produce a musty-sweet odor through glands on the lower side of their bodies that might be noticeable. Though bed bugs are usually only active at night, it’s possible that you may find them hiding in corners or seams of the bedding. The EPA website has more information about bed bug appearance along with pictures of the bugs throughout their lifecycle.
Be Aware of Other Bugs
Not every bug found in a hotel room is a bed bug. The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station has a great resource guide to help identify some other types of bugs that you might come across. The New York City Department of Health also has an identification guide to help tell the difference between bed bugs, cockroaches, and carpet beetles.
Possible Signs of Bed Bugs
- Possible symptoms may include unexplained, often itchy red spots visible on the skin. The spots will usually present themselves in rows or clusters. Drugs, medical, mental conditions, and allergies may mimic insect feeding.
- Presence of scattered brown spots on bed linen, mattress seams, or chairs
- Presence of small oval brown insects on beds or chairs (see photo above). If possible, take a photo of the insect so the bug can be identified by an insect expert.
I Think I’ve Been Bitten or Exposed To Bed Bugs, What Do I Do?
At The Hotel
Immediately notify the hotel staff and ask to be relocated to another room. You should ask for a room at least two floors away just in case the bugs have migrated to any of the adjoining rooms. If the hotel is full, call Crew Scheduling and ask to be connected with the supervisor on duty. Explain the situation to them and ask to be relocated another hotel.
Back at Base
When you return to base, report the situation to your supervisor. Be sure to complete a FAIR using Report It! and file a CrewCare report. Place your luggage in a plastic garbage bag and seal it tightly before putting it in your car.
When You Return Home
At home, leave your luggage in a garage if possible. Empty your bags and vacuum them completely with a shop vac (which is then washed with hot water). Inspect all of your belongings. Launder all clothing in hot water (at least 10 minutes on wash) and dry on high heat in a dryer. Remove clothing carefully and check for bed bugs and their eggs.
Bed Bug Bites
Bed bug bites show up as small, swollen, red bumps that may or may not have a bite mark in the center. The bites are very itchy. It is common to have several bites at a time, often in a straight row on your skin. Familydoctor.org contains more information on bed bug bites including how to treat them.