What Are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are small parasitic insects of the Cimicidae family. This term usually refers to species that prefer to feed on human blood; all insects in this family live by feeding exclusively on the blood of warm-blooded animals.
The bugs themselves are reddish-brown, flattened, oval and wingless, and have microscopic hairs that give them a banded appearance like the picture above. They are small and easily mistaken for other bugs, so it’s important to know what you are looking for. Adults grow to 4–5 mm in length and 1.5–3 mm wide (about the size and color of an apple seed) and newly hatched nymphs are translucent, lighter in color, and become browner as they molt and grow.
Of course, as the name implies, they like to live in box springs and mattresses.
Where Are They Coming From?
Hotels. Clean homes. Dirty homes. Other countries, other states, bed bugs are practically everywhere. These pests are small enough to stow away in your suitcase and on your clothes. According to a survey in 2011 called Bugs Without Borders, 1 in 5 Americans will experience an “infestation in their home or knows someone who has encountered bed bugs at home or in a hotel.”
How It Affects You
Bed bugs are nocturnal, so there is a strong chance you won’t actually see them – you will simply wake up one morning to itchy red bites. The bugs feed on human blood in the night and hide come daylight, so you can’t exactly spray and squash the bugs to make them go away. Oftentimes the only evidence they are in your home are the bites on your skin and the fecal matter in your linens.
But What Can You Do?
There are no guarantees, but being proactive can go a long way.
To check your hotel for bedbugs:
• Check the mattress seams and box springs for shed bed bug skins, small black stains like grains of pepper, or the bugs themselves.
• Examine inside the cushions of any furniture, around the electrical sockets, and behind the wall décor like picture frames.
• Place your suitcase on a tile bathroom floor if possible, as bedbugs are less likely to hide there.
For more prevention tactics, check out this video from PestWorld.org –