After reading this post, you may shake your head and think I am a nut. I was bitten by a bedbug in a hotel in Raleigh, North Carolina a few years ago. That one bite was hugely swollen and very painful. I had never seen one before, and after I kamikazied it, (they flatten out like ticks and refuse to DIE DIE DIE!) I got out my computer and began a search. I suspected it was a bedbug and was proved right. My entire body was covered in goose bumps and my hair stood on end while I notified management of the infestation. There were small trails all along the edges of the mattress too. What if I had not been up and sitting in the light when that first bug bit me? I might have been covered in bites by morning. I was given a new room, in which I still felt miserably panicky. The next morning, my mattress was visible out by the hotel dumpster. I guessed that might be the only remedy available.
In my search that night, I ran across a website dedicated to reporting bedbug incidents in hotels and apartments all across the US, Bedbug Registry. Out of curiosity, and because I have begun to travel so much lately, I decided to take another look at it today. It seems the number of incidents reported has rapidly created a mass of red across the nation. How appropriate that each incident should be represented by a red dot! The bloody little buggers are taking over the world.
In 2010, The Gawker, in an article entitled, “Bedbugs Really Are Taking Over the Country,” reported that bedbug infestations had risen by 57% in the prior five years. Readers who also often travel may have noticed the forward march of breeding biting bedbugs. The Environmental Protection Agency refused to approve what may be our only hope for stopping the spread of bed bugs, citing that it could harm children. From what I have read about apartment and hotel infestations, and how they spread rapidly from unit to unit, I think the risk is outweighed by the benefit of not having our children subjected to bites and possible parasites and disease carried by the bugs. That’s just my little ole opinion, though.
Realistically, what can you do to prevent meeting those little hungry chompers in the night? Carry a metal suitcase. Bugs can’t lay eggs in metal. We hope. As soon as you arrive in your hotel room, establish a “must-do” routine. Turn off the lights, get out your trusty handy dandy travel battery-operated black light, and examine the walls, the carpeting, the bedding, the mattresses, the crevices behind the headboard, the closet, and in all the drawers. Don’t miss anything.
Evidence of bedbugs and other unsavory organic particles will be glowing beacons in the dark. Most man made materials also glow in the dark, but you can easily make a distinction between a urine stain, a blood stain, bed bug trails, and the coverlets. I didn’t find any in my apartment, but I found a fair amount of weird and suspicious stains on most of the walls. Yuck. eHow.com has an excellent article on the subject. After completing your inspection, if you are still worried. Be sure to place all your belongings in the bathtub for the duration of your stay. This will minimize the chances of your bringing bugs home with you in your things. Protect your family!
Here is another good article about buying and using a black light on Inspectipedia. For good measure, here are some really gross photos of bed bugs on The Bed Bug Handbook. Here is another article about bed bugs in the hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and how to treat the belongings you bring home on The Bed Bug Handbook. You can find more if you search for bed bug photos on your search engine.
In conclusion, use the bed bug registry to report bugs. Please. Use it to stay away from hotels that host them. Buy a good black light. Will they allow that on planes? You may have to purchase one in every city you visit. That might be a chore, but well worth doing if you want to avoid something that may in future, without the heroic measures described herein, become nearly unavoidable. Maybe the better hotels will one day begin offering black lights as part of their welcome packages? I like it. They may not. What say you? So, safe and travels to you all, and I hope you found something interesting to take away with you.
Enough already! My head is starting to have imaginary itches!