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If the recent slew of media articles about the rising prevalence of bedbug infestations is making you dread your next business trip, you may be relieved to know that there are some simple steps you can take to identify and avoid bedbugs when you travel and it might be a good idea to know how to get rid of bed bugs before you return home.

Know what bedbugs look like

Bedbugs are usually red-brown in color and the size and shape of apple seeds. Just-hatched bedbugs however are smaller and almost colorless, although they can be seen with the naked eye.

Prevent stowaways in your suitcase

Before traveling, spray your suitcase with an insect repellent containing DEET, which according to the World Health Organization is effective at repelling bedbugs and will make your luggage a less attractive hiding place. When you arrive in your hotel, put your suitcase in the bathroom, or another uncluttered, uncarpeted area, while you inspect the rest of the room. Even if the room appears free of bugs, store your luggage off the floor to be on the safe side.

Check their favorite hiding places

Bedbugs seek shelter in folds of material, seams and cracks. Examine your hotel bed by pulling back the bed linens and looking on the mattress pad cover and under the dust ruffle. Look for bugs, molted bug skins or small droplets of blood that would indicate the bugs have been eating from humans. Also check the head board, end tables, soft furnishings and your drawers and luggage rack. It goes without saying…if you find any evidence of bedbugs, alert hotel management. They should provide you a new room and may also offer to launder your clothes. Some find that using the best canister vacuum could help to fight bed bugs.

If you have been exposed, don’t bring them home

If you think you may have been exposed to bedbugs while traveling, check your suitcase for signs of bugs before you bring it inside the house and vacuum it thoroughly, concentrating particularly on the seams. Use plastic bags to transfer clothing directly to the washing machine and launder every item in hot water, even if it wasn’t worn. Bag up delicate items and take them to be dry-cleaned, letting the dry-cleaner know your concerns. If you still think bedbugs may be in your home, call a pest control professional like Pest Control Des Moines to help get your home back to how it was initially. Having bed bugs can be a pain but there are always ways to solve this.

Remember, bedbugs are unpleasant but not dangerous

Yes, bedbugs may make your skin crawl, but while their bites are itchy and unpleasant, they are not known to spread diseases. Nor does the presence of bedbugs indicate unsanitary conditions (although it is worth noting that clutter gives them more places to hide). If you are bitten, apply anti-histamine cream as you would with most other itchy insect bites. Spraying yourself with an insect repellent containing DEET is a temporary solution to help prevent bites if you have no alternative but to stay somewhere that you know has a bedbug infestation.

Visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency‘s website to learn more about bedbugs.

Photo credit: bedzine

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