While encountering bed bugs in hotels is possible, typically only a small number of rooms have problems. If bed bugs are discovered, guests can request another room, preferably in another area of the building, since problems often extend to nearby units. Should you experience itchy welts suggestive of bed bug bites during your stay, it would be prudent upon returning home to place all clothing directly into the washer and/or dryer. Inspecting or vacuuming luggage upon arrival home is less useful since it’s hard to spot bed bugs inside a suitcase. The suitcase itself can either be treated or discarded.
All of the stages of bed bugs are visible, at least if you don't need reading glasses and you have a sufficient amount of light. So if you're looking closely enough, you can even see bugs in the nymphal first instar stage. A fecal spot, for its part, can be as large as a bed bug itself in terms of the area it covers. The spots are basically digested blood, so most are dark in color. On a white mattress, they stand out pretty well.
Bed bug infestations have resurged since the 1980s for reasons that are not clear, but contributing factors may be complacency, increased resistance, bans on pesticides, and increased international travel. The U.S. National Pest Management Association reported a 71% increase in bed bug calls between 2000 and 2005. The number of reported incidents in New York City alone rose from 500 in 2004 to 10,000 in 2009. In 2013, Chicago was listed as the number 1 city in the United States with the worst bed bug infestation. As a result, the Chicago City Council passed a bed bug control ordinance to limit their spread. Additionally, bed bugs are reaching places in which they never established before, such as southern South America.
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Bedbug bites, like all insect bites, can become infected through excessive scratching, as underneath the fingernails lies a host of bacterial pathogens. If your bites become infected, they will appear red and swollen, feel tender and may drain pus. Typically there will not be a fever unless a substantial area of the skin is involved. If you experience any of these symptoms, you must seek medical attention as it points to a secondary infection. Your physician may prescribe antibiotic therapy or, if the infection is mild, an antiseptic medication that you can buy without a prescription.
Bed bugs are active in summer and winter and are not considered "seasonal" in the same sense that mosquitoes, ticks and stinging insects are. Still, many consider bed bugs to be a greater problem in the warmer months, however it is not the bed bugs that are more active in the summer months - the humans are. In warmer weather we typically travel more, often sleeping in hotels and motels, using various modes of transportation, and thereby increasing our risk of exposure to bed bugs. The bed bugs themselves are year-round pests.
The likelihood of bed bugs increases if the affected individual has been traveling, or if they have acquired used beds or furnishings before symptoms started to appear. Bed bugs also are suspect if you wake up with itchy welts you did not have when you went to sleep. It’s important to recognize, however, that not all bite-like reactions are due to bed bugs. Confirmation requires finding and identifying the bed bugs, shed skins, fecal spots, etc., which often requires the help of a professional. (Other possible sources of irritation that may be mistaken for bed bugs are discussed in University of Kentucky entomology fact sheet ENT-58, Invisible Itches: Insect and Non-Insect Causes).
It is also recommended to put infested items, such as a mattress, in a sauna that reaches temperatures of upwards of 170° Fahrenheit. Similarly, they also perish in extremely cold temperatures so mattresses and other items can be cleansed of these bugs with the use of plastic wrap and dry ice. Cover the items with large plastic tarps and carefully insert dry ice, and then secure. The extreme temperature will naturally fumigate the pests.
Your replies to these questions are great! I have a question for you. I’ve recently returned home after spending a week in a hotel and the day after I returned I noticed 4 red dots which could be bites on my waist line. They don’t itch or hurt but I’ve never had anything like this before. I can send you a picture if you tell me how. I’m worried that they may be bed bug bites.
Luckily we were at the tail-end of our trip and once I arrived back home I immediately soaked in a hot-hot Epsom Salt bath. I used 3 cups of Epsom Salt, repeated that twice…and shazaam! The bites reduced in size and the itch was “almost” completely relieved. I had an extremely severe reaction going on and at one point considered going to a dermatologist or hospital to get some professional care.
In infestations with persistent, repeated exposures, bed bug bites may appear in crops. Also, since bed bug bites usually take three to six weeks to heal, as long as the infestation is still present, new bites may accumulate even as the older ones start to resolve. Thus, people may have various bite reactions in various stages of evolution at the same time.
Amazingly, these sneaky little bloodsuckers dine on you without waking you. You don't feel their stealthy bite because they inject a numbing agent into your body, along with an anticoagulant to keep your blood flowing as they suck. The first sign of bedbugs may be itchy, red bites on the skin, usually on the arms or shoulders. Bedbugs tend to leave straight rows of bites.