Where do people most often come into contact with bed bugs? If you ask a majority of people the most common answer will probably be ‘hotels’.
It’s a good answer, and hotels and motels are indeed one of the hottest of hot spots for bed bug activity. But they are far from the only places people come into close contact with hungry bed bugs.
There are many other bed bug hot spots that we tend to overlook in our day-to-day activities, and that makes us vulnerable to picking up a few stragglers and unknowingly bringing them home with us.
Hitchhiking their Way into Our Homes and Offices
Bed bugs are relatively sedentary insects. It would be a mistake to credit them with too much ambition or determination. That being said, however, they are nothing if not pragmatic. Hungry bed bugs will go wherever there is a hope of finding a fresh food source.
Bed bugs are recognized as champion hitchhikers, and their constant search for a blood meal will drive them to attach themselves to any prospective host. Once that happens they will hang on to their new host and hitch a ride back to their home or workplace. Once there, the bed bugs will begin to feed, breed, and reproduce. Before long you’re dealing with a full-scale infestation.
Hotels and Motels are America’s Number One Hot Spots
Hotels and motels remain the number one bed bug hot spot in the United States and that is unlikely to change any time soon. The constant flow of travelers from around the country, and around the world, tends to make hotels an ideal breeding ground for bed bugs. Hotels, motels and hostels also provide ample opportunities for bed bugs to find new hosts and pathways to fresh habitats.
But hotels and motels are far from the only places where people find themselves exposed to hungry bed bugs. There are quite a few lesser known hot spots that we need to pay attention to so we can avoid bring home some unsavory companions.
Thrift shops and yard sales are great places to find bargains, but sometimes the money you save comes with a catch. More often than not thrift stores and charity shops only give donations a cursory review. They may give things a general wipe down, but a thorough inspection and deep clean is pretty unusual.
Used furniture and second hand clothing purchased at thrift shops and jumble sales often conceal dormant bed bugs. Remember, these parasites can survive up to 400 days without feeding. That means that items in on sale in thrift shops could well be hosts for bed bugs who are just waiting to be brought into a new food-rich environment.
If you do purchase items from thrift shops or yard sales take some necessary precautions. Thoroughly inspect and clean anything you purchase before bringing it into your home or office.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Public transportation provides ample opportunities for bed bugs to jump hosts in an effort to find new feeding grounds. As we know bed bugs are good at hitching rides on people’s clothing and other belongings. When they are brought onto public transport they can often change hosts or simply embed themselves in the seating of the plane, train or bus. New passengers offer new opportunities for hungry bed bugs to find new hosts.
When using public transport of any kind stay aware of your surroundings. Watch for telltale signs of bed bug activity, and inspect your own belongings before returning to your home or office.
Theaters and Nightclubs
Dim lighting, plush carpeting, upholstered seats, and plenty of people coming and going make movie theaters and nightclubs another bed bug hot spot most of us tend to overlook. Once again the steady flow of human traffic provides ample opportunity for bed bugs to jump hosts. When to settle in for a movie or a show those stray bed bugs may decide to hitch a ride on your overcoat, pant leg, or purse.
Without ever knowing it you may bring a few hungry bed bugs into your home or office, and once there they will set up shop and begin to lay the groundwork for invasion.
Your public library is an important part of your community. It provides free and easy access to information, education, and opportunity. Unfortunately, it also provides free and easy access to parasites like bed bugs. Once again the steady flow of human traffic almost guarantees some degree of bed bug activity, and books and magazines make for handy hiding places for these hungry insects.
A visit to your local library can result in your bringing home more than a stack of books and videos. Bed bugs may have hitched a ride on the media you’ve borrowed or on the clothes you are wearing. The advice here remains the same – carefully inspect anything you check out of the library and brush down your clothing before returning to your home, office, or dormitory room.
Public Laundry Facilities
Laundromats are more common than many of us might realize, with large portion of the public still relying on public laundry facilities for their weekly washing needs. If you are using a public laundry, or even a shared laundry in an apartment complex, you are at a greater risk for being exposed to bed bugs. You are sharing a space with many other people and it only takes one of them bringing bed bugs into the laundry facility to expose you and your family.
If you regularly use a public Laundromat try to remain aware of your surroundings. Watch for any telltale signs of bed bug activity. Inspect your finished laundry and carefully pack it in resealable containers before bringing it back into your home. If you take the necessary precautions you can avoid starting a bed bug infestation at home. All it takes is some time and attention to detail.
An Ounce of Prevention…
…is worth a pound of cure. A steady course of bed bug prevention can save you and your family a lot of time, money and frustration. Be aware of your surroundings. Inspect your belongings when you find yourself in a potential hot spot and when you return to your home or office.
Finally, if you do find yourself wrestling with a bed bug infestation contact a professional inspection and removal service at the earliest opportunity. The sooner you act the sooner the infestation can be eliminated and you and your family can sleep soundly once again.