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GardenSMART :: The Great Hitchhiker: Debunking Myths about Bed Bugs

The Great Hitchhiker: Debunking Myths about Bed Bugs

By Orkin Pest Control
Photographs courtesy of Orkin Pest Control

Flight booked. Check. Hotel reserved. Check. Suitcase packed. Check. The one part of your holiday vacation plans you’re probably not prepared for: the possibility of bed bugs threatening you, your family or your home when you return.


Orkin reminds travelers that, as they prepare to hit the road to visit friends and family this season, they should also learn how to help prevent unwelcome surprises, like bed bugs, from spoiling their trip or return home.

Bed bugs are actually hitchhikers that can hide in hotel rooms, bedrooms and in personal belongings and then travel in luggage from place to place. Bed bugs feed on blood and can leave behind itchy, bloody welts. And once bed bugs are inside a home or business, they can reproduce quickly.

Orkin has treated for bed bugs in all 50 states and experts believe bed bugs’ return and prevalence in the U.S. over the past decade is due, in part, to an increase in both domestic and international travel, as well as a lack of knowledge regarding bed bug control.

Bed bugs don’t discriminate and can be found in any hotel – luxury to budget – and they are active all year long.

With their widespread nature come widespread rumors. We’re here to set the record straight by debunking some of the most common bed bug myths and truths.


Top Myths

Bed bugs only strike at night. Yes, bed bugs are nocturnal, meaning they’re most active at night, but that doesn’t mean they’re not willing to make exceptions. Midday nap? Catching up on the morning news from the comfort of your (former) favorite couch? Beware. You might just become a bed bug’s next meal.

Bed bugs only live in beds. We know what you’re thinking, how misleading! While bed bugs can often be found in and around your bed, they can also be found in other frequently occupied areas, including those plush movie theater seats, public transportation and even suitcases.

Bed bug bites are easy to detect. Before a bed bug bites, they inject saliva, which temporarily numbs the skin, making their bites nearly undetectable when they occur. Just because you didn’t feel them bite, doesn’t mean they didn’t.


Top Truths

Bed bugs don’t spread diseases. There’s some debate about this one. Yes, bed bugs carry diseases, but when it comes to transmitting them, support is lacking. However, bed bug bites can lead to secondary infection and can be harmful to the elderly and children.

Bed bugs are nature’s best hitchhikers. Though bed bugs are everywhere, travelers tend to be especially susceptible to bed bugs because of the bed bugs’ natural behavior. They easily hop from the bed or carpet to your suitcase, securing a ride back to your home.

Bed bugs can live a while without eating. You may have heard this one before, and it’s true. Though the range of time varies depending on who you ask, it’s safe to say that bed bugs can go for months at a time without feeding.


To help prevent picking up the extra souvenir, Orkin recommends travelers use the acronym S.L.E.E.P. to remember the common signs of a bed bug infestation:

  • Survey any and every hotel room for signs of a bed bug infestation. Bed bugs are not a sanitation issue, which means they can be found in any hotel or motel – from a one-star to a five-star location. Look for red or brown spots on sheets.
  • Lift and Look for all bed bug hiding spots: crevices in the mattress, box spring, sheets and furniture, as well as behind baseboards, pictures and even torn wallpaper.
  • Elevate your luggage and other items on a rack away from the bed and the wall.
  • Examine your luggage while repacking and again once you return home.
  • Place all dryer-safe clothing from your luggage in the dryer for at least 15 minutes at the highest setting when you return home.

For more information to help prevent bed bugs, visit


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