Few pests can hold a claim to possibly being creepier and crawlier than the dreaded cockroach, but the bedbug may just be one of the few they can. Not only may they infest the beds in your most recent hotel room, but they could find a way to come home with you.
Bedbug infestations can occur at any time of year, but most experts say it’s wise to be super wary of the critters during peak travel times, where hotels get more traffic, such as summer, for instance.
They can hide in just about any crack or crevice, and are surprisingly good hitchhikers. They can latch onto your luggage and other belongings.
“They’re not discriminating travelers,” said Jim Fredericks, chief entomologist for the National Pest Management Association. “They don’t discriminate between a first-class resort or a low-rate motel. You could encounter them anywhere.”
There are steps you can take to avoid bringing the creepy crawlies home with you, though.
The first one is to inspect your hotel room. Before you settle down for a night, it’s worth making a scan of the bed and any couches or chairs in the room itself. Make sure to look at the folds and seams of the mattress, as little dark stains can be sign of an infestation. And, if it’s really bad, you may see the bug’s molted shells or pearly white eggs.
Make sure to look closely at the wooden headboards in the room. Although the bedbugs are typically associated with clinging to fabric material, they can use their claws to grip and climb into wooden bed frames as well. Make sure to take a peek behind the headboard if it’s possible, as the critters often hide in the cracks, according to Michael Potter, an entomology professor at the University of Kentucky.
And finally, know what bedbugs look like. Borel has dealt with three infestations in her time living in New York. It’s important to be able to identify the bugs, she said, so you can notify the hotel immediately if you spot them.
“This isn’t necessarily fun, but if you find a bug in your bed, pick it up and put it in a plastic bag or one of those glasses they have in your hotel room,” she said. “Keep it there so you can have proof that there were bedbugs in the room.”