Tips to stay safe during bedbug season

Bed bugs make excellent hitchhikers, so check baggage before returning home from a trip. (Courtesy Erie.gov)

WASHINGTON — Warmer weather and travel season raise the risk for bedbugs, but you can take precautions.

“It’s a little bit warmer. That means household temperatures are going to be warmer. That means bedbugs are going to complete life cycles a little quicker. They’re going to be a little more active,” says University of Maryland entomologist Mike Raupp.

People also step up their travel this time of year, attending graduations, weddings and taking vacations.

“This may bring them into contact with areas where bedbugs are simply more common, hotels, motels, and this is an opportunity to bring these very clever hitchhikers home with you,” Raupp says.

What can you do to dodge the pests?

“No. 1, whenever I stay at a hotel or motel, I look at the mattress very carefully,” Raupp says.

Look for tiny specks along the seam of the mattress or on the box spring. If you see evidence of bedbugs, get a new room — and not the room next door.

There’s an online bedbug registry that lists hotel where bugs have been detected. But Raupp points out that bedbugs can be found at any hotel or motel.

“Bedbugs — they know no bounds. They’re going to infest high-end places, low-end places and every place in between,” Raupp says.

A good strategy to avoid bringing home bedbugs is to keep your clothing off the hotel room floor and out of the drawers.

“Use that luggage stand. Don’t unpack into the drawers,” Raupp says.

There’s also a great precaution you can employ when you get home.

“Everything goes straight into the dryer. It doesn’t have to go into the washer, but everything into the dryer. Run it through one cycle. About 115 to 120 degrees in a dryer will kill all life stages of bedbugs. It’s an excellent way to protect yourself after you travel,” Raupp says.

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