A Bed Bug Travelers Advisory

They are creepy. They are crawly. They are hard to eliminate. They keep us sleepless in Seattle, and everywhere else for that matter. What are they? Bed bugs!

Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist, said bed bugs have been spreading across the country for months.  Before you start your spring and summer travel plans, you might want to be aware of some unwanted travel guests.

Bed bugs were nearly eliminated in the United States by 1940. However, changes in pest control, increased global travel and insecticide resistance are just a few reasons why we’re seeing such an increase today.  Because bed bugs can live up to 316 days without feeding, they can be difficult to eliminate.

Bed bugs are known to be great travelers. Every region of the country has experienced a bed bug infestation. These creepy, crawly little creatures hitch a ride in purses, luggage, planes, trains, automobiles and even in the folds of your clothing.

Bed bugs are most often found in mattresses, box springs and around the headboard. However, despite their name, they also can be found in sofas and chairs, carpeting, rugs, curtains, electrical outlets, hanging pictures, walls and ceilings.

Because bed bugs are so mobile, they can be especially problematic in high trafficked areas such as hotels. Travelers should check their bed for signs of bed bugs. Signs include dark spotting and staining, which is the dried excrement of the bugs.  In addition, rusty or reddish blood smears on bed sheets or mattresses are caused from crushing an engorged bed bug. When checking into a hotel, examine the sheets and upper and lower seams of the mattress and box springs, especially along the headboard.

If you have bed bugs in your home, the first thing you need to do is wash all bedding in hot water. Bed bugs cannot survive in temperatures above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash your bedding regularly, and clean the laundry hamper or basket, too. You want to get rid of the eggs so there are not any new bugs.

Bedbugs love to hide. Get rid of common bed bug hiding places. Put a mattress cover over the mattress and box spring. Clean up the room and keep it clean. The fewer hiding spots, the quicker you will get rid of bed bugs. Use a vacuum to eliminate bugs and their eggs.

Use the crevice tool on your vacuum to do the bed frames, baseboards and any furniture near the bed.  Be certain to empty the canister into an outdoor trash can after you are done.

Items that cannot be washed should be sealed in a black plastic bag and placed in the sun for about three hours. As long as the internal temperature reaches 120 degrees, the heat inside the bag will kill bed bugs.

When it comes to maintaining your home as a healthy home, keep these things in mind: keep it dry, clean, safe, well-ventilated, pest-free, contaminant-free and well-maintained.

To help keep bed bugs out of your home, be sure to keep your luggage, purses and other items off of soft surfaces as you travel.  And, don’t put luggage on your bed while you unpack at home.  These two practices can help reduce your risk of bring home an extra house guest after your vacation!