The holidays are the busiest time of the year for most of us. Whether you’re traveling to visit loved ones or they are coming to stay with you, the holidays are the #1 travel season of the year. This also means it is the busiest time for pests – especially bed bugs! Bed bugs are known for being hitchhikers – tagging along on your luggage, purses, and even your clothes. They can be picked up on planes, trains, buses, and hotels.

Bed bugs are brown, oval, flat, wingless insects that resemble wood ticks. They can be anywhere from 1/4″ to 3/8″ in length. One of the most common signs of bed bugs are “blood spots,” rust colored spots left behind near their feeding areas. Now that you know what to look for, what can you do to reduce your risk of bringing these pests along on your holiday travels? Check out these 6 tips to prevent bed bugs this season.

  1. Keep Your Eyes Peeled. Inspect your accommodations thoroughly for bed bugs. Check for live bugs, casts, and blood spots. Make sure to check cracks, crevices, seams, and folds of material in the bedding. Check mattress seams, carpet edges, and the undersides of sofa cushions. Check for blood spots on baseboards, bed linens, mattresses, heating vents, under box springs, and behind headboards. Check the Bed Bug Registry, a free public database of bed bug reports for the United States and Canada.
  2. Protect Your Bed. Move your bed away from the wall. Bed bugs hide in walls and baseboards during the day and come out at night to feed. By moving your bed away from the wall, you provide fewer places for the bed bugs to hide. Tuck in your bed sheets and blankets. Bed bugs can’t jump or fly. This eliminates one way bed bugs can reach the bed. Use light colored linens on your bed. White or pastel colored linens make it easier to see blood spots from bed bugs. Encase your mattresses and box springs with vinyl or polyurethane or specially made bed bug encasements.
  3. Crank Up The Heat. Remove your clothing as soon as you return home on a non-carpeted floor. Make sure to wipe the floor with a wet cloth after you are finished. Place the clothes into the washing machine immediately. Unpack your clothes immediately and place them in plastic bags. Wash and dry your clothes on the highest temperature setting the fabric will allow. When your guest leave place their bed linens in a plastic bag and take them straight to the laundry room and place them in the washer. Wash and dry them on the highest temperature setting, as well. Throw away the plastic bags in an outdoor trashcan immediately. Make sure to vacuum your home after your guests leave and double bag the vacuum bag and dispose of it outside.
  4. Keep The Bags Out Of The Bedroom. Store suitcases away from the bedrooms. Have your guests unpack immediately and store luggage in a hallway closet. Carefully inspect suitcases and other non-washable items and place them in plastic bags. Store sealed luggage outside the home (in a garage, shed, etc) until you need to use them again.
  5. Declutter. Provide a hook to hang coats, purses, robes, etc on. Use luggage racks to store suitcases and avoid placing them on the bed. This diminishes the places bed bugs can hide. Put a plastic mat by your front door to hold shoes. Have your guests remove their shoes when they come into the house.
  6. Call A Pro. If you suspect you have a bed bug problem, call a professional pest control company to come in and perform a thorough evaluation and provide you with a comprehensive treatment plan.