Bedbugs

Bedbugs

bedbug

Traveling this Summer? Don't Bring Bed Bugs Home With You

Summertime means vacations and travel and kids at camp. It is also a time when young people move into new apartments for college or work. All of these situations can bring close encounters with bed bugs.

Travel. There are other ways of getting bed bugs, but staying overnight in an infested hotel, motel, hostel, or camp is a way people take bed bugs home. Staying with friends or family who live in an infested place is also risky. When traveling, the more lodging places a person stays in, the greater the chance of staying some place infested.

What you can do:

Check the room for bed bugs and their fecal spots, especially near the head of the bed. The most likely place to find bed bugs in a hotel room is behind the bed's headboard because sheets are changed often. The headboard usually is hung on the wall. It can be lifted off to look behind it. Some headboards are heavy (queen/king) so two people might be needed to do this. If bed bugs are found, ask for a different room, or stay in a different establishment. Don't place luggage, computer cases, or purses on a bed or on the floor. Bites are a sign of bed bugs, but not everyone reacts to bites. And, sometimes the bite reaction can be days or even weeks after the actual bite.

A second option to prevent bed bugs in your home is to carefully handle your luggage and its contents when you return. Don't bring your luggage indoors right away. Outdoors or in your garage, remove all clothing from your luggage and place it in garbage bags sealed with a twist tie. Take the bag of clothing and immediately launder the clothes in hot water with detergent orsimply run clothing through the dryer for 30 minutes (medium to hot heat). Throw the garbage bags away. Examine toiletries, shoes, and other items carefully before bringing them inside the house. Store your luggage in the garage or place it in a car when temperatures are hot in the summer. Bed bugs die at about 120 degrees F; it takes about 130 degrees F to kill bed bug eggs. It can be helpful to use duffel bags which can be heat treated in the dryer.

Apartment Living. Young adults are often eager to move into their own place and inexperienced when it comes to inspecting an apartment for bed bugs. Bed bugs are small, and not always easy to find, especially in a vacant apartment. Because bed bugs like to live near where people sleep, fecal spots or bugs are most likely found in bedrooms. In Lincoln, landlords are not supposed to rent bug-infested apartments, but this does happen sometimes. And, sometimes the landlord doesn't realize the apartment is infested because the tenant does not say anything.

As soon as bed bugs are detected or suspected, contact the landlord or property manager. If insects are found, they should be identified by an expert. In Lancaster County, bring insect samples to the Lancaster County Extension Office for identification.

Landlord-tenant disputes about who is financially responsible for treating bed bugs has become all too common. If a bed bug infestation is ignored, at some point, bed bugs will travel through walls or across the hall and infest other apartments, which will result in a much more costly eradication effort being needed.

Barb Ogg
Emeritus Extension Educator, Entomology
Barb Ogg shared her love of entomology with clientele throughout Nebraska for many years through Nebraska Extension. Barb retired in 2015.

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