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Bed Bugs

Bed bug; courtesy of iStockphoto.com

They’re small, they’re bloodthirsty, they trek quickly, and if you’re traveling, they could be waiting for you in your hotel bed.

No one can say for sure why these pesky creatures have reemerged in recent years, but they’re now a common problem in the United States. They’re especially prevalent in hotel bedrooms, where people from diverse places are constantly coming and going. Once they infest a new environment, bed bugs can go unnoticed and untreated for several months, multiplying and eventually traveling to new locations.

If you’re traveling it’s necessary to be aware of and take precautions against these annoying creatures.

When staying in a hotel, be on the lookout for brown to reddish-brown, oval-shaped bugs about the size of an apple seed. Immature bugs can be as small as 1/16 of an inch. White, oval-shaped eggs can be found in the crevices of mattresses and headboards.

Before you stay in a hotel room, leave your luggage outside your room and do a quick inspection with a flashlight, paying close attention to the back of the headboard. Pull back the sheets, check the mattress and box spring, and look for bugs in the curtains and furniture around the room.

Keep your luggage zipped, and never set your bags on the bed or upholstered furniture. It may also be a good idea to keep your clothes in Ziploc bags to prevent bugs from getting to them.

If you notice bed bugs during your stay, notify management immediately and request to stay in a different room. If you believe your clothes have been infested, put them in the dryer at the highest heat setting for at least 30 minutes.

For more information on bed bug prevention, visit Penn State Extension’s “Bed Bug Precautions for Travelers” at extension.psu.edu/bedbugs/travelers-hotels/bed-bug-precautions-for-travelers.

PHOTO: iSTOCKPHOTO.COM