According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the resurgence of bed bugs is likely due to an increase in international and domestic travel, and resistance to pesticides, exacerbated by the public's lack of knowledge of prevention measures.
When you're traveling, use these tips to guard yourself against itchy bites and bringing hitchhiking bed bugs back home.
- Use the luggage rack to open and store your suitcase—not the furniture or carpeted floor. A desktop or tiled bathroom floor is a good option if you don't have enough luggage racks.
- As soon as you've set your bag someplace safe, inspect your bed, curtains, and upholstered furniture. Look in the seams of mattresses and upholstery for bed bugs, and their shells, feces, or eggs. Little rusty, reddish stains where their blood-gorged bodies have been crushed and black flecks left by feces are a dead giveaway. Even luxury hotels have had problems with bed bugs, so no matter where you stay, do a quick inspection.
- Wear long-legged and -sleeved pajamas when sleeping in hotels, to prevent bed bug bites.
- To play it safe when returning from a trip, inspect your suitcase and its contents in your garage or other outdoor location before bringing it into the house. Take clothing directly to the washing machine, and use the warmest possible dryer setting. Items that cannot be washed and dried (such as shoes or luggage) can be stored in a freezer for two days, or placed in a plastic bag and exposed to a temperature of 120 degrees or warmer for an hour. Vacuum your suitcase, inside and out.