I saw a bed bug crawling across the bed. It appeared to have bit me a few times. My husband smashed it. It was full of blood. My blood. One of my worst nightmares has finally come true. It was early this summer at Harrah’s in Kansas City. I am sorry to say I did not report the bedbugs to the hotel or write a review about it. I just didn’t want to deal with it at the time. I regret not reporting the attack.
When we got home we left everything in the garage. We took our clothing straight to the washer and washed and dried it. We ran most things through the dryer and bagged the stuff that couldn’t go through the dryer. I was concerned about our phone and my iPad. We vacuumed the suitcases, washed them, and bagged them up in garbage bags before putting them into storage in the basement. So far, there has been no sign of bedbugs in our home. I inspect the bed weekly and vacuum the whole house twice a week. Neither of us have had any bites. Hopefully, we did not bring them home with us. Maybe the bugs did not survive the trip. Maybe they are lurking somewhere in the house.
We travel quite a bit and stay in many hotels. We often get complimentary or discounted rooms. Sooner or later, we were destined to find bedbugs. It is a scary experience and I did panic just a little. It could have been much worse. It will be worse if they crop up here someday.
I am a little worried about staying in hotels now. I find myself wanting to stay home more and more. Bed bug worries are getting on my nerves because I love to travel and have so much fun when I go somewhere.
A little research has told me that bed bugs are insects that prefer to feed on human blood. Adult bed bugs are small oval reddish brown bloodsucking insects. They prefer live in a warm home near or inside beds and bedding. Bed bugs move by crawling and attaching to things. They cannot fly. They are attracted to humans by their carbon dioxide and warmth. They can survive a wide range of temperatures and humidity. Adults can survive for 5 months to a year without feeding. It takes 5 to 10 minutes for a bedbug to become completely engorged. The life cycle of a bed bug consists of several cycles of feeding, reproducing, and molting (shedding of exoskeleton). After engorging on a host, the bugs will congregate in a hiding spot with other bed bugs until they are hungry again. They will feed on other mammals if humans are not available. (Guess I better check my cat beds.)
Bed bugs gnaw through the skin and inject saliva with anticoagulants and painkillers before sucking your blood. They are not known to carry diseases. Infection of the bites is possible and allergic reactions can occur. Bed bugs prefer to bite exposed skin, preferably the face, neck, and arms of a sleeping person. Typically, the bites occur in threes along a line. (Professionals call this breakfast, lunch, and dinner).
Bed bugs can be present in hotel rooms, movie theatres, schools, nursing homes, stores, homes, libraries, and public transportation vehicles such as buses and trains.
Tips to prevent bed bugs from coming home with you:
- Try to pack clothing that can be washed in hot water and dried in a hot dryer.
- Choose a hard side suitcase if possible in a light color.
- Stash your luggage in the bathroom of your hotel room first thing before inspecting the room. Bed bugs are rarely found in bathrooms and kitchens.
- Bring a flashlight and inspect your bed, bedding, mattress, sofa, chairs, behind the headboard, behind picture frames, under the phone, and under the alarm clock. Most bed bugs can be found in a 15 feet radius of the bed. Pull back the linens and check around and under the mattress and behind the headboard. Inspect the linens and the blankets. You are looking for bugs, blood stains, tiny black dots (fecal material, and small white empty skin shells. The bugs are the size and shape of apple seeds. ( A bed bug infestation often has a rotten raspberry smell.)
Inspect the cushions and seams of the couch or chair. Use a credit card to pull back the seams.
- Store your luggage on a desk, luggage rack that has been inspected, or top of the dresser.
- Inspect the drawers and closet walls with the flashlight for bugs before unpacking.
- Wrap your suitcases in plastic.
- Do not allow your clothes to touch the bed or flooring.
- After returning home, separate your clothing and place in plastic bags. Wash clothing in hot water and dry for at least 20 minutes. Dry cleaning will also kill the bugs. Items that cannot be washed should be heated or frozen. Wrap them in a sealed bag and set in the sun for several days.
- Inspect your suitcase for bugs. Vacuum, scrub with hot soapy water using a scrub brush, or clean with a garment hand steamer. Store suitcases in a sealed plastic bag.
If you have a bed bug infestation in your home, it can be treated. Professionals will look for signs and may use a bed bug sniffing dog to diagnose your home. Treatment involves, vacuuming, steaming, heat, freezing, and sealing things in plastic bags.
Bed bugs are very challenging to detect and control only because they have excellent abilities to squeeze into cracks and crevices and will often go unnoticed unless you are really looking for them. Bed bugs travel to look for a host, feed, and then return to a hiding place to grow and reproduce. They do not like light and noise. They like to hide in the cracks, crevices, seams, and folds of your personal things – your backpack, suitcase, books, etc. Bed bugs will not travel on your body but they can be attached to the clothing you are wearing.
Tangling with bed bugs is stressful. A bed bug infestation can cause depression, anxiety, and paranoia. Maybe even suicide. Do you think you would be able to sleep at night knowing you might have bed bugs crawling all over your body sucking your blood? That makes me crazy!
In summary, bed bugs are everywhere. Check carefully for them when you visit hotels. If you see signs of bed bugs in your room, notify the hotel staff and ask for a different room, preferably on a different floor. Move to a different hotel if necessary. If you do not see signs of bed bugs but get bitten, try not to bring them home with you.
Traveling is risky. Unfortunately, bed bugs are part of that risk. I am not much of a risk taker but I do like to travel. I have suffered nasty mosquito bites, gnat bites, jellyfish stings, and food poisoning during my travels. A few bug bites are no big deal but I certainly do not want to take any of these critters home. What is life without a little risk? If you are afraid of taking a risk, you are afraid of life.