Vacation Destination: Inspecting for Bed Bugs

Don’t let bed bugs spoil your summer vacation. When you get to your destination, before you even take your luggage out of the car, inspect your room. If you arrive by taxi or hired car, keep your luggage tightly closed and place it in the middle of the floor away from furniture or walls where bed bugs may harbor. If you’re traveling with the family, limit potential exposure by having the children wait in the car or lobby while you inspect the room.

How to Have a Bed Bug-Free Vacation
Scouting the Enemy
What to Do When You Arrive at Your Destination

  • Know your enemy. Here’s what to look for:
    Shed skins – Like snakes, bed bugs shed their skins as they grow, so look for tiny, dry husks.
    Spotting – Black dots indicate fecal spotting.
    Live bugs – Bed bugs are small, flat oval bugs about the size of a pencil eraser when full-grown. Color is light brown when young, turning dark brown with maturation.
  • Muster the troops. You don’t want to injure yourself or damage the property, so enlist the management’s aid in inspecting mattresses and moving furniture away from the wall.
  • Inspection. Grab the disposable gloves and flashlight you packed and give the room a thorough inspection.
    1. First take a look at the walls, particularly near door frames and air vents. When a room becomes heavily infested, bed bugs will seek to expand their territory, congregating in these areas.
    2. Bed bugs like to hide in cracks and crevices so check the baseboards behind the bed, dresser and nightstand. Completely remove and look inside and underneath drawers.
    3. Remove bed linens and inspect the mattress, particularly along seams, rolled edges, handles and tags.
    4. Check behind the headboard and anywhere the mattress abuts the wall.
    5. Check dust ruffle seams.
    6. Look underneath the mattress and at the box springs, especially where the dust cloth is stapled to the frame and around plastic corner guards.
    7. Check all furniture and objects in the room, particularly in cracks,crevices and undisturbed places.

If the room passes muster, you’re likely to have a bed bug-free vacation. However, in early stages, bed bugs are so tiny, you may not be able to detect their presence. You may want to take a few extra precautions:

  • Keep your possessions in your suitcase and keep it closed and zipped as much as possible.
  • Keep your luggage off the bed, away from walls and off luggage racks.
  • A glass table with metal legs is the safest place for your possessions.
  • Push the shower curtain to the side and hang clothing in the middle of the rod.

Next time: Moving out: Packing tips for coming home.

How to Have a Bed Bug-Free Summer Vacation

In our neck of the woods, bed bugs, mosquitoes and ticks are the bugs most likely to ruin your summer vacation. (Check out the NPMA map referenced in our July 26, 2007 post). A dab of eau d’Off will take care of mosquitoes. Simple precautions and a freckle inventory — watch out for the moving ones — will protect you from ticks. But a run-in with bed bugs can make your life miserable for weeks or even months to come.

Today we’re going to start a series on How to Have a Bed Bug-Free Summer Vacation. We’ll go over pre-trip arrangements and packing, checking into and out of your hotel room, and coming home. We’ll give you lots of tips you can use to minimize your chance of bringing home an unexpected and unwanted souvenir when you unpack from your vacation.

How to Have a Bed Bug-Free Vacation
The Pre-Emptive Strike:
What to Do Before You Leave

  • Perimeter guard. The single smartest thing you can do before leaving home is cover your mattresses and box springs with bed bug-proof encasements. Should the worst happen and bed bugs hitch a ride home in your luggage, encasements will protect your mattresses and box springs from infestation. They will also make treating and killing bed bugs faster and easier. Not all mattress covers will protect against bed bugs, click here to find out more about guaranteed bed bug-proof encasements.
  • Sentry duty. Choose your luggage wisely. Soft-sided fabric luggage is all the rage these days for its light weight and stuffability. Unfortunately, it is also full of folds, seams, zippers and pockets where bed bugs can hide and hitch a ride home with you. Choose smooth, hard-shelled luggage. If you must use soft luggage, duffel bags and other non-structured fabric carryalls that can be laundered in hot water and dried in a hot dryer are preferable to rigid construction cases.
  • Uniform inspection. Choose your wardrobe carefully. Pack only clothes that can be laundered in hot water and withstand a 30-minute hot dry. This will insure that any creepy crawlies that might hitch a ride home in your clothing can be quickly and easily dealt with when you return home.
  • Marching orders. Pack carefully. In an easily accessible place in your luggage, pack a strong flashlight and disposable gloves, they’ll come in handy when you inspect your hotel/motel room at your destination. You’ll also want to take plastic bags in assorted sizes (gallon ziplocks to garbage bags). If the bags aren’t self-sealing, remember to pack ties or duct tape. Carry jewelry, accessories, toiletries, shaving kits, electronics and other personal items in sealed ziplock bags to protect them from bed bugs. It will make it easier to find things in your luggage too. Should you encounter bed bugs during your travels, you can seal infected items in the plastic bags. Once home, items can be easily cleaned and the bags quickly disposed of.
  • Moving out. Make sure all locks are locked and zippers zipped. Look for tears in luggage and seal with duct tape to prevent critters from sneaking inside.

For more information on bed bugs, visit the Stern Environmental Group website. We are the bed bugs experts serving New York City, Long Island, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut and New York State. You’ll sleep well tonight when you get “Stern” with your pests.

Next time: Vacation Destination: What to do when you arrive.

Don’t Let Bugs Spoil Your Summer Vacation

Summer vacation time is in full swing. Families are packing up the van, airing out the sleeping bags, stocking up on snacks, and hitting the road. Vacations are a time to relax, discover new places, catch up with friends and relatives, savor regional delicacies, be amazed at the incredible variety America has to offer, and store up some great memories.

Summer is also the time of year when insects are most numerous and most active. One nasty encounter with bed bugs or ticks or any of a number of other creepy crawlies can completely ruin your whole vacation. The National Pest Management Association has a marvelous new feature on its website: the Pest Prevention Tips Regional Map. (Click the post title to go to the site.)

It’s a quick, easy way to check for potential pest problems before you head out for vacation. Knowing what kind of pests you might run into in the Colorado mountains or on the Florida coast allows you to travel prepared. Using a map of the US, the site tells you what kinds of pests to watch for in each region. Just click on the area where you’ll be vacationing and a list of dangerous pests pops up. You get information on the risk each pest presents, symptoms, avoidance techniques and information on how to protect yourself and your family.

Don’t let nasty bugs spoil your summer vacation. Check the NPMA site before you travel and you’ll be prepared for every eventuality. All of us here at Stern Environmental Group hope you have a great summer vacation!

P.S. If the worst happens and you manage to bring a few pesky critters back with you (or if a few move in while you’re away), give the pest control experts at Stern Environmental Group a call. We’ll get rid of your pests and return your life to normal in no time. Remember, you’ll sleep well tonight when you get “Stern” with your pests.

P.P.S. We’ll want to see your snapshots!

Hospitality Industry Makes Pre-Emptive Strike Against Bed Bugs

If you’re in the hotel business, a significant portion of your inventory is tied up in beds. A good night’s sleep is what your guests are paying for. Comfortable beds mean return business. In fact, a few hotels are so well known for the superior quality of their beds — and the extraordinary good night’s sleep they provide — that you can actually buy the bed you sleep in and take it home!

With bed bugs invading America coast-to-coast, the hospitality industry is frantically searching for ways to protect their extensive investment in mattresses and box springs. A few bed bugs carried in on the clothing or luggage of a single guest can spell doom for a hotel or motel. To a bed bug, a hotel bed is a virtual smorgasbord. The menu changes every night! Bed bugs are tiny and prolific. Since not everyone reacts to their bites, you might not even know you have bed bugs in your facility until they start to spread. And spread they will — through wall voids, plumbing and electrical pass throughs, inside ducts, on guests’ and maids’ clothing, on linens trundled down the hall to housekeeping. It only takes one unfortunate night to trigger a disaster. Before you know it you have frightened, irate guests mobbing your front desk, demanding instant check outs and full refunds.

The problem has become so huge that bed bug infestations regularly make the news. If you own a hospitality business, this is negative publicity of the worst kind. Bed bug victims regularly post the names and addresses of infected hotels on high-traffic websites. If your facility becomes infected and the word gets out (and it will, bed bugs are just too gross to be kept secret), you might as well lock your doors and shut down. Even after successful extermination, many guests will refuse to return, so abhorrent are bed bugs to the American public.

Smart hospitality managers are taking pro-active measures to protect their facilities — and their beds. They are purchasing and installing specially designed bed bug-proof mattress and box springs encasements. At Stern Environmental Group we have received numerous inquiries from worried hotel and housekeeping managers about our superior professional-grade mattress encasements. We sell the only encasement product specifically designed by bed bug extermination professionals to solve the bed bug problem.

BugOff from Protect-A-Bed is uniquely designed to be impervious to tiny bed bugs. They can’t crawl through it, bite through it or maneuver through the zipper teeth. If you already have bed bugs in the mattress, they are trapped forever and eventually die. The cover is designed to remain on the mattress for its full lifetime. You never need to remove it. If your facility is bed bug free, BugOff keeps bed bugs from getting into your mattresses, protecting your considerable investment. Should the nasty pests invade your facility in the future, your mattresses and box springs are fully protected and bed bugs will be easier to exterminate because they can’t harbor in the mattresses.

Smart hospitality managers are calling Stern Environmental Group to find out more about our unique bed bug-proof mattress and box springs encasements; just click the post title. To learn more about bed bugs and Stern’s guaranteed professional pest eradication method, visit the Stern Environmental Group website. Protect your bedding investment, protect your guests, install bed bug-proof encasements on all the mattresses and box springs in your facility. You — and your guests — will sleep well tonight when you get “Stern” with your pests.

The Ants Go In, The Ants Go Out . . . Help!

My daughter called in a panic last night. She just moved to North Carolina and her apartment has been invaded by ants. And we’re not talking about a couple of ants meandering about near the kitchen trashcan. There are trails of them marching out of the wall under the bathroom sink. With gravity defying precision, they climb the kitchen cabinets to swarm over the boxes of food inside.

She has spent hours over the last few days emptying her cupboards and sealing everything in plastic. She has scrubbed down the cabinets, counters and floors with vinegar and detergent (did I mention she’s in her 20s and into natural solutions?). The ants just detour around the freshly scrubbed areas and keep marching along. My daughter is at her wit’s end! She can’t figure out where the ants are coming from or what they could possibly be eating (if they’re carpenter ants, maybe the cupboards!). Time to call in the pros from Dover, I advised her.

Ants are among Earth’s most successful species. They have been around for more than 100 million years, come in an amazing 20,000 different species, and can be found nearly everywhere in the world. Social insects, ants live in colonies sometimes numbering in the millions. As the scouts forage for food, they lay down a pheromone trail for their buddies to follow. The workaholics of the insect world, hundreds and even thousands of ants will follow the scent, marching to the new food source day and night until they’ve carried it all away.

It’s likely that there is a massive ant nest hidden somewhere in or abutting my daughter’s new apartment. There is no way she is going to be able to solve this problem on her own. In order to make and keep her apartment free of ants, the nest will have to be found and destroyed. This is a job for a professional pest control company like Stern Environmental Group.

Unfortunately, we don’t send our pest control experts that far afield, but if you have an ant or pest problem in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey or parts of New York State and Connecticut, you’re in luck. Give Stern Environmental Group a call. We’ll send our crack team of pest control professionals out to your home or business to get rid of the beasties so your life can return to normal. Click the post title to learn more about our complete range of residential and commercial pest control and pest management services. You’ll sleep well tonight when you get “Stern” with your pests.