Avoiding hitchhiking mattress bugs | Information

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I don’t know how much traveling families have plans for this summer, but it’s always a good idea to remember that bed bugs travel too.

While we may not travel as usual, even a short trip can be a huge headache if you’re not looking for bed bugs.

Bed bugs can’t fly or jump, but they are fantastic hitchhikers. Taking a few simple precautions while traveling can reduce your risk of exposure to this pesky pest.

Adult bed bugs are roughly the size and shape of an apple seed. They are mostly active at night and require a blood meal to survive and to feed almost entirely on humans.

The reactions to bites vary from person to person. Some people do not respond while others may experience itching, red welts, or localized swelling within a day or two.

One way to reduce your exposure to bed bugs while traveling is to check your motel or hotel room for signs of pests before settling in.

First, keep your suitcases in the clean, dry bathtub or leave your luggage right outside your room. Heavily infested rooms could smell sweet or musty like rotten raspberries and / or moldy shoes. The smell is strongest under the headboard and mattress. Take a deep breath. If something smells don’t hesitate to ask for another room.

Bed bugs are common in beds and sleeping areas. Most bed bugs hide within 15 feet of the bed and are most likely on top of the bed.

Gently pull back on the blankets, sheets, and mattress pads at the top of the bed to check for eggs, bugs, blood, and black stains of poop that are signs of bed bug infestation. Pay close attention to the box spring beds. Headboards; and seams, tufts and crevices of mattresses.

Bed bugs can also feel at home in upholstered chairs and sofas, especially if the furniture is used for sleeping, as well as in the cracks, crevices, and recesses of bedside tables and dressers.

Check the luggage rack for signs of pests by looking on and under the straps.

After inspecting your room and luggage rack and doing your best to confirm that there are no bed bugs, you are ready to take your luggage into the room. Never place your suitcase on the bed or other fabric-covered furniture. Use the luggage rack or a hard surface like a desk.

When you return home, unpack immediately in a location other than your bedroom, e.g. B. in the bathroom or in the garage. Then wash and dry all of your clothes.

Heat is effective in killing bed bugs. Put items that can be washed in the dryer on medium-high heat for at least 20 minutes. Then wash and dry them again to ensure that all pests have been removed.

It’s also a good idea to take your luggage outside and clean the inside and pockets to make sure there are no signs of bed bugs.

For more information on bed bugs, financial management, health and wellness, parenting, or planning a family and consumer science program, contact the OSU Cooperative Extension Service in Cherokee County at 918-456-6163.

Heather Winn is a family and consumer science educator with the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service in Cherokee County.