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Bed bugs can’t fly but they can crawl long distances, and under the cover of wallpaper can do so undetected. You should repair any cracks in a wall before covering it with wallpaper, especially in the bedroom. Remove any loose wallpaper and tighten light switch covers. Pay attention to spaces behind electrical switchplates because this is a favorite sneaking spot as well.
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Since bed bugs need humans to survive, the insects follow them everywhere in pretty much the same ways people travel. Cardboard boxes are something of a Trojan Horse for the insects, as they are a great place for them to hide. To counter these advances, isolate the boxes in the best way you can. Use duct tape around all edges, for example.
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Bed bugs like to stay close to their meal source, which is the blood of people and animals. They wouldn’t be caught dead in hair as it’s too hot, but they settle in folded clothes, shoes and anything that can be removed from the body. Don’t put your clothes on soft surfaces until you’ve inspected them for stowaway bed bugs.
Bed bugs are experts at hiding. Briefcases are ideal for them because they have many small nooks and crannies that people may not be paying attention to. Don’t make the common mistake of putting a briefcase on the bed, couch or sofa, as an intrusive bed bug may see it as an open invitation.
The No. 1 advice to travelers who suspect that they may have brought bed bugs home is to wash and dry all clothes — even ones you haven’t worn — at high temperatures. Such heat will kill them. The same cannot be said for a cold water wash, where bugs or their eggs can survive. Also, dirty belongings sitting too close to other unwashed garments is a recipe for invasion.
The tiny insects, which are just about 4 millimeters in length, cat stay almost invisible to the naked eye in a pillowcase. They are an easy infestation hot spot because they can host a lot of eggs undetected. If that’s the case, your pillow will probably smell of mold. You want to consider buying a bed bug blocker pillow protector. They are usually zippered and have a bite barrier.
As with a briefcase, backpacks have many small spots bed bugs can hide. Try to remember not to leave the bags on the bed, sofa or couch or leaning against a wall. Even better, seal you backpack in plastic to stop them from hopping on. Always keep the bags in high places such as luggage racks, on top of a TV or nightstands.
Remember in 2014 when New York City’s subway system faced an unprecedented bed bug problem? Some trains were even taken out of service. The insects can hide in the seat cushions or cracks in any buses or train cars. Don’t put your clothes on the back of the seats and keep bags on your lap if possible.
Wrap your luggage and garment bags in plastic or garbage bags. Keep them away from the bed and dressers. If possible, keep your clothes in your suitcase, which should remain zipped and wrapped in plastic as well. Look around the zipper areas for eggs, live insects or black spots. When you get home, leave everything in the wrapped cases until you wash and dry them at a high temperature. Anything higher than 120 degrees should kill them.
Whether you travel in economy or first class, the parasites don’t discriminate. The horrid pests love all seats and will hide there until they get a chance to get on your clothes or handbag, and bite you in your sleep. In one famous example, British Airways fumigated a plane and grounded two more after a reported infestation. United Airlines has had a similar problem.
Have you ever found bed bugs in your laptop? Anything with small nooks and crannies can harbor a bed bug, including keyboards, computers and CD cases. You can put these devices in a zip lock bag with no-pest strips for up to two weeks until the insects suffocate. You can also try over-the-counter sprays.
Bed bugs infestations occur close to where people sleep, and hotels are a common hotspot. And don’t think it’s just fleabag motels. Even the best and most expensive accommodations have been plagued on occasion. The most famous example is probably the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan. Five-star hotels are still facing the same problem, according to reports.
If you think of attending your neighbor’s garage sale this weekend, think again. You may find cheap items which can end up costing you a fortune if you fight bed bugs as a result. The parasites can hide in tables, chairs, electronics, nightstand lamps, picture frames. Don’t pick up things people left outside their houses, as there may be a good reason why they got rid of them in the first place.