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Avoiding bothersome beg bugs while traveling Featured

Written by  Tuesday, 06 March 2018 09:59
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By Danette Russell, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences/4-H/Int. CED, LeFlore & Haskell County OSU Extension


With spring break on the horizon and summertime not too far behind, Oklahomans may be planning to hit pause on their hectic schedules to do some traveling.

If that is the case, families should remember bed bugs like to getaway, too, and they are not shy about catching a ride, including on clothing, luggage and even commercial airliners.
Taking a few simple precautions can help travelers reduce their chances of picking up this annoying pest.

For instance, families should leave their luggage in the bathtub or on the counter or another hard surface and carefully inspect the motel or hotel room for signs of the pests before settling in, said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist.

“Since bed bugs are most active at night, they’re most likely to be found in places where people are at night, that is, the bed,” she said.

As part of the inspection, pull back the pillows, blankets and linens at the top of the bed to search for signs of a bed bug infestation such as eggs, bugs, blood and black fecal spots.

While the linens are pulled back, travelers should check the seams, tufts and crevices at the top of the mattress, as well as inspect the headboard and nightstand.

“It’s also a good idea to take a quick look in the dresser, in case any bed bugs hitched a ride on clothing,” Peek said. “Also, before you use the luggage rack, be sure to look under the straps.”
Any signs of an infestation should be reported to the hotel staff.

“Only move your luggage into the room when you’re confident there are no bed bugs present,” Peek said. “During your stay, store your luggage on the inspected luggage rack or on a hard surface such as a desk or dresser.”
After returning home, travelers should immediately unpack in a location other than the bedroom, such as the bathroom or garage, then wash and dry all their clothing.

Since heat effectively kills bed bugs, items that can be laundered should be dried on medium to high heat for at least 20 minutes, then washed and dried again to make sure all pests are eliminated.

“As an added layer of precaution, take your luggage outside and clean the interior and pockets to be sure there are no signs of bed bugs,” Peek said.

Adult bed bugs are about the size and shape of an apple seed. Mainly active at night, they need a blood meal to survive and feed almost exclusively on humans.

Reactions to being bitten vary from person to person. Some people have no reaction, while others may experience itchy, red welts or localized swelling within a day or two.



For more information about bed bugs, contact Danette Russell, Extension Educator, at the LeFlore County OSU Extension office at 918-647-8231 or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and visit the Pest and Hazard Management Resource Center at


Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating. The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, national origin, disability or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.

David Deaton

Digital Editor at Oklahoma Welcome

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