During the holiday season, many of us travel to the ancestral abode to spend
time with family. Many of us also realize that the ol’ homestead isn’t as
big as it used to seem, and sleeping on the bottom bunk with cousin Eddy on
top isn’t as fun as it once was. Inevitably, a hotel becomes the best
option to maintain familial bliss. Actually, who are we kidding-it’s mostly
about our own sanity!

While a hotel enables you to sleep more soundly, you may want to take a few
precautions to avoid an even worse problem than cousin Eddy’s snoring: Bed
bugs!

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs have been living in close proximity to humans for a long time. In
the early 1990s, bed bugs were found at an Egyptian archeological site that
went back 3500 years.

Fast forward to the 1950s. A pesticide called DDT, together with modern
vacuums, washing machines, and driers, made serious inroads on bed bug
populations, almost to the point of eradication in the U.S. Shortly
thereafter, DDT was banned, and bed bug populations have been slowly
climbing ever since.

The Boise area has not been untouched. Ten years ago, I would’ve laughed
out loud (literally LOL’d, maybe even ROTFL’d) if you would have told me
that there was a bed bug infestation in the Treasure Valley. But now I see
bed bugs on a weekly basis.

So, when you check into that hotel, take a quick look around (quick tip-use
a flashlight; your phone’s flashlight works great). Here is what you should
be looking for:

Adult bed bugs are reddish brown and are 1/5 inch long and about 1/8 inch
wide. During the day, the adults typically stay out of sight and are
therefore difficult to find. However, you can still detect bed bugs by the
spots of fecal matter or dried blood they leave on mattresses, etc. Start
with the bed. Remove the sheet and take a look at the tufts, folds, and
seams of the mattress and box spring. Inspect the bed frame for any signs.
Next, inspect the headboard, the wall behind the headboard, behind pictures,
the luggage rack, and the seams of any upholstered furniture. All this
should take you no longer than 5 minutes. If you find anything, report it
immediately to the hotel staff, and ask for another room.

If you don’t find anything, start to take it easy. Begin relaxing by going
early to the pool with your kids, and then staying there for 6 straight
hours while you listen to earsplitting screams of joy whilst you sweat
profusely from the humidity of the pool room. Aren’t vacations fun?

CC image courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture at Flickr