The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) issues a warning to millions of Americans who plan to travel – beware of the bed bug. The NPMA has seen a 71 percent increase in infestations since 2001, mainly due to international travel, according to Pest World.
These hitchhiking pests can easily travel home with people, but not on them. The tiny insects cannot jump but are very effective crawlers and climbers.
While bed bugs do not transmit diseases, bite responses can range from an absence of any physical signs to a small bite mark or a serious allergic reaction, according to the CDC. The pests are not considered to be dangerous; however, an allergic response to several bites may need medical attention.
Infestations are not directly related to sanitation. You may clean your home religiously every day and still have nests near your bed. Cluttered conditions can offer the bugs convenient harborages very close to their human host off of which they feed.
The best way to prevent bringing home an unwanted souvenir is regular inspection for signs of an infestation. They prefer to nest within about 15 feet of their host, which makes them somewhat predictable – you are likely to find them in closed and tight spaces.
If you suspect you may have an infestation problem look for bite marks on the face, neck, arms, hands, or any other body parts. But keep in mind that such signs may take as long as two weeks to develop. Look for other clues such as the pests’ exoskeletons after molting, bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets, as well as rusty–colored blood spots and a sweet musty odor.