Ah, the holidays! Commercials and movies abound with images of families reunited from across the miles for warmth and cheer. Sofa beds are unfolded, extra bedrooms aired out, perhaps sleeping bags are even laid out in the kids' bedrooms. As you anticipate guests for the holidays, don't forget to take necessary precautions to prevent the pests that often hitchhike in with them: bed bugs.
Bed bugs are notoriously stealthy passengers. They are global travel aficionados, as this interactive map shows. Bypassing airport security officers and luggage checks, they embed themselves into personal clothing, fabric suitcases, and even handbags, flying right along with your family members. Don't be too quick to blame those family members, however; their homes may be bed bug free. The pests may have seen that ticket for your city and jumped aboard from right there at the boarding gate. After all, bed bugs love the chairs in waiting areas—so many destinations from which to choose! Once your family members walk in the front door, these nearly invisible pests will make themselves right at home, bypassing your offers of coffee or pie to settle into carpet, couches, and mattresses.
So how do you prevent your guests from bringing you pests?
First, explain ahead of time that you are trying to avoid this common problem so that they won't take your cautionary measures as a sign of personal judgment on their hygiene. After all, bed bugs are no respecter of persons or places. Then, ask for their cooperation in these two critical anti-bedbug tactics.
Baggage check. Before your guests bring their luggage into your house, check it over for bugs. Look carefully into the corners of suitcases and the seams of fabric bags.
On the deck. If possible, store luggage outside (for instance, on the deck if you live in a warm climate; in a garage or shed if weather is intemperate). If this is not possible, at least place it off the floor.
After guests leave, strip beds and wash all bedding in hot water. Wash sleeping bags as well. Check around sleeping areas for signs of bedbugs. If you find evidence of bugs, call a local pest control company (such as Chem-Wise Ecological Pest Management Services) promptly. Timely treatment of the problem will prevent insects from multiplying and infesting your home.
This holiday season you don't want to end up with more visitors than those you invited. Don't give bedbugs a holiday; they don't deserve one. Instead, enjoy your guests and prevent the pests.