Bed bugs in hotels and on cruise ships? What about my backpack?

Bed bugs in hotels and on cruise ships?

The questions come and go for hotel managers, cruise ship cabin stewards, even sporting goods store workers but the bugs themselves, stay behind. It seems that infestations of bed bugs, the hematophagous (bloodsucking) insects of urban legend-quality mania are here to stay. Experts agree, the only thing to do is prevent them from dropping by in the first place.

One scary thought about bed bugs is that they can infect you with a disease they may have picked up from the last person they took a bite out of.No, those people are thinking of a vocal member of whatever political party you don’t care for. In the U.S. that could be Sarah Palin for some or Keith Oberman for others.

An expert on bed bugs (not politics) Richard J Pollack PhD says no way;

“The bites can cause distress, a few people have allergic reactions, and scratching can lead to secondary infection, but bed bugs are not known to transmit infectious diseases to humans,” says Pollack. “You don’t have to worry about who the bed bug fed on earlier. You’re not going to get hepatitis B or C, malaria, or HIV.”

On the contrary, we can often be harmed more by trying to get rid of bed bugs in the first place.

“Many people, whether they think they have bed bugs or truly do, will attempt to apply insecticides in their homes and on their beds. They don’t know what they’re doing, they don’t read the labels, and they can overexpose themselves to something, which, if used properly, would pose minimal risk.” adds Pollack.

Bed bugs in hotels and on cruise ships
These are really icky creatures

Some people think bed bugs are caused by poor hygiene…like people that don’t bathe frequently are more apt to foster an environment good for bed bugs to thrive. Again, not so much says;

“Finding bed bugs in your home has nothing to do with poor hygiene! It takes only one bed bug to hitch a ride on your clothing (furniture, suitcase, etc) and infest your residence. What’s worse is that they can live up to one year without drinking a drop of your blood.”

Others think bed bugs hitch a ride on luggage and wind up anywhere that luggage might go including cruise ships.

I talked to bed bug specialists from Avoid-A-Bug told this week at Cruise Shipping Miami, a week-long trade show where cruise line executives and buyers stop by to sample the wares of vendors looking to get their business. They say bed bugs are not a big problem on cruise lines and that hotels are much worse. Avoid-A-Bug uses bug-sniffing dogs to find them.

“Cost-effectively locating these elusive insects can be a challenge especially in large multi-room structures. Pest control professionals are realizing the time and cost savings of enlisting bed bug sniffing dogs to help conduct preliminary inspections.” said Bill Cowley of Cowleys Termite and Pest Control.

What has more of a bed bug problem than cruise ships and hotels?


British Airways grounded two jumbo jets earlier this month not because of unrest in the world, earthquakes or tsunami’s, because of an infestation of bed bugs so bad that one passenger was badly bitten on two separate occasions reports Time. has some tips to protect against bed bugs when flying. You, not the bed bugs. Bed bugs don’t fly. Bed bugs don’t really even run much.

The tips we probably won’t do include calling ahead to the airline and asking “What steps do you take to keep bed bugs out of the passenger areas?” Somehow I can’t imagine myself making that call. They also suggest personally inspecting the area your seat is in for signs of bed bugs. That one might be good on full flights. We’ve sure heard stranger ways to get that upgrade to first class.

That leaves us with backpacks and sporting equipment of all kinds.

Tips for backpackers include water-proofing your tent and keeping it sealed whenever possible, putting your shoes in bed bug-proof bags when not using them and killing any visible bed bugs with alcohol.

Gadling has been seriously (?) covering this topic for quite some time, providing video on how to find and attack them and also an informative video about the top cities for infestations.

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Photos courtesy BuzzKill Pest Control

Scientists confirm our worst fear: the super bedbug is here to stay

super bedbug

The results from a large bedbug study at Ohio State University have been revealed – and they don’t look good. According to scientists, bedbugs are turning into super bedbugs by becoming resistant to most common pesticides.

Compared to ten years ago, bedbugs are one thousand times more resistant to chemicals that used to kill them – and are less prone to stress from heat, cold and dehydration.

Even more alarming is that bedbugs in New York City are 250 times more resistant to pesticides than bugs from Florida – which explains why New York has such a massive bedbug problem at the moment.

The report from Ohio State is quite complex, but certainly worth a read if you like waking up in the middle of the night from bedbug nightmares.

Check out this article for more tips on how to detect and remove bedbugs – by taking basic precautions, you may be able to prevent spreading the infestation.

[Photo: AFP/Getty Images]

Hilarious bed bug video shows top cities for infestations

Next Media Animation has quickly become a popular go-to destination for hilarious news clips. Take for example this video clip translating the Terminix top bedbug infested cities into something we’ll call “must watch”. Sadly, they only took the time to show the top four, but the end result is still worth it.

Our friends at AOL Travel recently reminded us how bed bugs are still very much in the news with a report on the third bug lawsuit targeting the Waldorf Astoria hotel.

And back in November, we also published some tips on how to detect and remove bed bugs from your hotel room.

Feeling itchy yet?

Pest control firm announces top cities for bedbug infestations – makes you itch uncontrollably

Pest control firm Terminix just released a list of the 15 most bedbug-infested cities, “based on an analysis of call volume reporting bedbug infestations and of confirmed bedbug cases reported by sales professionals in 350 of the company’s service centers”.

The list contains very few surprises, New York takes the top spot, but Ohio manages to snag four of the top fifteen cities. Apologies in advance if I keep you up all night with phantom itches.

Getting rid of these nasty bugs is a laborious process – the Harvard School of Public Health has a great resource on how to detect and eradicate them.

Here are the top 15 cities where bedbug infestations are found:

  1. New York, NY
  2. Philadelphia PA
  3. Detroit MI
  4. Cincinnati OH
  5. Chicago IL
  6. Denver CO
  7. Columbus OH
  8. Dayton OH
  9. Washington DC
  10. Los Angeles CA
  11. Boston MA
  12. Indianapolis IN
  13. Louisville KY
  14. Cleveland OH
  15. Minneapolis MN

[Photo: AP Photo/Virginia Tech Department of Entomology]

Online tool helps check for hotel bed bug reports

WARNING: reading this article may screw up your sleep tonight.

Bed bugs are a huge problem for hotels. Obviously, not as big a problem as someone who actually ends up with bites all over their body after a night in a hotel bed, but still something they need to take seriously.

Sadly, some hotels have years of history of bed bugs, and until now, there was no real way to find the worst offenders. The online “bed bug registry” can help you track down properties you want to avoid.

By entering the city, and hotel name, you get an overview of all reports from people who have actually stayed at that property, and who ended up with bites from these bugs.

As I mentioned in the opening sentence – I really don’t recommend reading this before bed time, or if you are actually at hotel right now, because the last thing you want, is to read that you are at a property with a bad history of bugs.

New York and Las Vegas tend to pop up on the report quite a bit – though not many of these reports are from the high end properties.

In addition to infestation reports, the site also offers bed bug related products, and tips on how to get rid of them. Sadly, in many cases, arriving back home with a suitcase full of infested clothes means you’ll either need to boil them, or throw them all away, because the last thing you want is to bring them back to your own bed.