Each year at HonorGuard, we receive hundreds of calls from prospective customers who seek relief from various insect related problems. However, there is one infestation that causes the most alarm and panic…the occurrence of bed bugs!
Bed bug infestations have rapidly spread across the United States. The most common misconception is that bed bugs only occur in lower prices motels and apartments. This is a myth and should be set aside. Instances of bed bugs have no correlation to social or economic class. Additionally, there have been several reports of bed bugs in structures that we would not normally suspect to harbor bed bugs. In addition to resort hotels, bed bugs have been found in movie theaters, office buildings, laundries, shelters, in transportation vehicles, and other locations where people may congregate.
To better understand the problem, HonorGuard educates its customer in the biology and behavior of bed bugs.
- Bed bugs are small, oval non-flying insects that are roughly the size of an apple seed in their adult form that feed by sucking blood from humans or animals.
- Bed bugs can live in any area of the home and will harbor in very small cracks in furniture as well as on textiles and upholstered furniture. They tend to be most common in areas where people sleep and generally concentrate in beds, including mattresses, box springs, and bed frames. It is not uncommon for bed bugs to infest couches, recliners, pull out beds and other furniture.
- Bed bugs are light sensitive and therefore are most active at night. They may bite any exposed areas of skin while an individual is sleeping. The face, neck, hands, and arms are common sites for bedbug bites.
- A bed bug bite is painless and usually it is not noticed in the early stages of an infestation. Small, flat, or raised bumps on the skin are the most common sign; redness, swelling, and itching commonly occur. Most people have no reaction to a limited number of bites. Reaction to the bites is primarily a function of sensitivity by an individual. However, research has shown that repeated bits may cause an increase in the chance of reaction. Most people are unaware that there is a problem until the infestation has reached at least a moderate level!
The number one question we receive here at HonorGuard is “how did they get here?” The answer is quite simple. Bed bugs are world class hitchhikers. Bed bugs live in any articles of furniture, clothing, or bedding, so they or their eggs may be present in used furniture or clothing. They spread by crawling and may contaminate multiple rooms in a home or hotel and even in multiple dwellings in apartment buildings. They may also be present in boxes, suitcases, or other goods that are moved from residence to residence or from a hotel to home. Bed bugs can live on clothing from infested homes and may be spread by a person unknowingly wearing infested clothing.
The fear of bed bugs causes most people to declare they will never sleep away from home! The reality is that most of us travel and a large number of people must stay in hotels or motels on a frequent basis. While the vast majority of accommodations will never have a bed but problem, HonorGuard Pest Management offers some practical tips that will help to reduce the risk of unknowingly taking these unwelcome guests home.
Each time you check into a hotel or motel, you should turn on every light in the room before making a brief, but careful inspection. First, peel back the bedding and look to see if you can identify fecal stains (small ink colored spots) on the tufts of the mattress and box springs. These spots will resemble the stain a fountain pen would create if we dabbed it on the fabric. Secondly, move the headboard about 2 inches away from the wall, if possible, and use a flashlight to continue looking for bedbugs, cast skins, and dots of blood or feces on the back of the headboard and on the wall behind the headboard. If the headboard is mounted to the wall or otherwise immovable, shine the flashlight along the edges of the headboard and into available space between the head board, searching for the telltale signs of bedbugs. Additionally, examine the night stands and headboard for egg cases (very small and semi translucent) in crevices and cracks on or near beds. You should also look at other areas such as under wallpaper, behind picture frames, in couches and other furniture in the room. Make it a practice to keep suitcases on folding stands and do not use the drawers of chests or dressers to store your clothing. Hang up folded clothes. Likewise, do not place laptop cases or other bags on the bed.
Here at HonorGuard Pest Management, our experience is that “signs” of an infestation are found far more often than we find live bed bugs. It should be noted that while fecal stains and skin casts suggest that bed bugs have been present, these do not confirm that the infestation is still active. Observing the bed bugs themselves is definitive confirmation that an area is infested. However, if no fecal stains or cast skins are found in the areas in or around the bed, the chance of a live infestation is greatly reduced.
Utilizing the tips provided by HonorGuard will reduce the risk of bringing bed bugs home. However, if problems should develop, do not hesitate to call. Our inspectors are trained to identify bed bug problems and HonorGuard Pest Management is one of the few companies in the area to be certified by Bed Bug Central to manage bed bug infestations. While bed bug infestations can cause panic and alarm, HonorGuard technicians are well trained and have an excellent record in eliminating bed bug problems wherever they occur.
While this is an alarming issue, do not let the fear of bed bugs alter your Holiday travel plans. Over 3 million people stay in motel rooms every night and the instances of bed bug infestations are very small in number. We at HonorGuard travel on a frequent basis for both business and personal travel and we sleep comfortably after performing an inspection and utilizing our tips at reducing our risk.
If you are traveling this summer, it may benefit you and your family to check out the BedBug Registry website. Below is the link to the site where you can enter the information regarding the hotel and city you are staying in.
A few tips for not bringing the pesky bugs home with you:
1. Check the Bed Bug Registry above
2. Bring a flashlight with you to check out the sheets and mattress. If you see small fecal spots, dried bed bug casings, eggs and possibly bed bugs – these are indications that Bed Bugs are present in the room.
3. Do not lay your suitcase OR laptop on the bed or the chairs in the room. I know of someone that actually had a bedbug climb into the vents on their laptop because it was warm. Needless to say, his spouse was not happy about the visitor that he brought home with him.
4. If you do bring a pesky guest back home with you, call us. We can help!