When you travel, it’s possible to pick up hitchhiking bed bugs and bring them back to your home. In order to stop these pesky little insects from taking up residence in your belongings and infiltrating your house, there are a few things you need to know.

The thing that makes it so hard to identify these little creatures is because they can squeeze into tiny cracks and crevices and go completely unnoticed by a casual observer. A majority of them will cluster around areas where people sleep, but a few will hide out in dark remote areas. They avoid light and if disturbed, they will move to a quieter location.

bed bug

bed bug


Bed bugs are oval shaped, flat, brown wingless insects that are about 1/4” to 3/8” in length. They look very much like a wood tick and after it’s eaten, the color of the body changes from brown to a deep purplish-red. Another thing that happens after consuming a meal is the body will become larger and make it look like a totally different insect. It’s not uncommon for people to notice empty shells because they grow bigger from one stage to the next. After a meal of blood, it’s common for a person to notice fecal spots in the areas adjacent to the feeding site or in the hiding spot.

How to Spot Them

The only way to confirm if these pesky insects have traveled home with you is to do a careful inspection of your belongings. You need to pay special attention to any cracks, crevices, material folds and seams. Remember, these critters are so tiny that they can be hard to spot, particularly if they are young and translucent. If you find any evidence, you should be very conscientious to contain the infestation. If you don’t spot any evidence, but think there might be an infestation, there are some things you can do to give you peace-of-mind and ensure you don’t carry them home with you.

Methods of Travel

Bed bugs can hitch a ride on your clothing, but aren’t like lice and won’t travel on YOU directly. If you are worried about bed bugs on your clothes, take the items off and put them into a plastic bag. It would be a good idea to take off the clothing in an uncarpeted area so the insects will have to travel some distance before finding a new hiding spot. You can wipe a wet cloth over the floor to help contain any of them that could have tried to escape.

Getting Rid of Them

Contrary to what you might think, you don’t need to actually throw away your suitcases and clothing to get rid of bed bugs. The key is to contain all the suspected articles by putting them in plastic bags until you can launder them, wash by hand or destroy the infestation with heat or freezing.

Before leaving the hotel or site of infestation, you should sort anything that requires laundering and put items in plastic bags. Separate the laundry as you would if you were normally laundering. Separating the clothing allows you to put it all in the machine directly and it lessens the chances of any escaping before things can be put into the wash.

When washing, you should set the machine and dryer on the highest possible heat setting. If you need to dry clean items, make sure to let them know the articles may contain bed bugs and that way they can keep things separated before loading into a machine.

Any suitcases and items that can’t be put in the wash should be carefully examined and if these pesky critters are found, you need to put them into a sealed plastic bag. Suitcases can be hand washed, use soapy water and make sure it’s as hot as possible. Test the item to make sure it won’t be affected by the hot water and use a scrub brush to get down into the folds and seams.

Things that can’t be hand washed may be heated or frozen to kill off any infestations. For heat treatment, you should expose the item to a two hour core exposure at 120˚F and for freezing treatments the item will need to be exposed to 23˚F for at least five hours.

If you’re still concerned with bed bugs possibly being in your home, it may be necessary to contact a professional pest control company for an inspection and eradication. Sugarland Exterminating can help you keep your home safe and pest-free.