Bah, Humbug! How To Handle Bed Bugs After The Holiday Season

Holiday travelers are a bed bug’s favorite vehicle for traveling during the winter months.

Bah, Humbug! How To Handle Bed Bugs After The Holiday Season

The holidays are a special time of year. For many of us, it's about finding the time to travel near and far to see the people who mean the world to us.  

But in between gift-giving, cookie decorating, and reconnecting with your loved ones, there's one agenda item that people rarely plan for this time of year: unexpected guests. We're not talking about the neighbors who drop by at the last minute, or even the out-of-town relatives who arrive without warning at your doorstep.  

We're thinking of a different group of rude visitors that are much harder to kick out: bed bugs, the holiday guest that never seems to leave.

How Bed Bugs Became New England's Most Talented Hitchhikers  

Tiny, parasitic insects, bed bugs have mastered the art of undetected travel. Typically a few millimeters in length (on average 5-7 for adults and smaller for young bed bugs, or nymphs), these biters are about the size of Abraham Lincoln's head on a penny, or a single apple seed. That being said: can you think of all the places these critters could hide before being noticed?

Picture this: you arrive at a hotel or bed and breakfast where bed bugs are hiding (any place with an influx of overnight guests is typically where bed bug infestations are found). They won't just bite when they get the chance. They'll find their way into the folds of your clothing, the seams of your luggage, and even tucked away in footwear. All of your belongings are fair game.  

From there, bed bugs are tough to shake—especially considering their ability to survive without food. Did you know that they can go without a meal for over a year? Once they've latched onto you, they'll be more than happy to stay throughout your entire journey. They'll be by your side traveling to other hotels, during airplane rides, on public transportation, and more—just patiently waiting to get a bite of you or another unsuspecting host when the opportunity arises.  

Through patience and resilience, these opportunistic little parasites became the most notoriously well-traveled pests across the globe.  

How Bed Bugs Make Themselves At Home

Once you bring them home with you, bed bugs will find their way to infest other items there—and they can move quickly. Relative to their size, they can move at the equivalent of a human sprint. They'll move their way to clothing, into your mattress, or another piece of furniture and return to the nearest warm-blooded hosts next time they need a meal.  

The ease that bed bugs move from one home to the next is also what makes re-infestation so common. If bed bugs are disturbed, they'll have no qualms leaving in search of a new infested object to hide out on. All the while, they'll be feeding and breeding. That means even if just one bedbug is left over after treatment, that one pest could start an entirely new infestation if the timing is right. Just one female bed bug can lay up to 7 eggs after a meal: per day, for up to 10 days.  

That's why, at the very first signs of infestation, it's crucial to isolate the bug-infested items and start treatment—before the infestation spreads to multiple possessions around your home.  

Look Out For Signs of Bed Bug Infestation

To respond with immediate and effective treatment from the professionals, it's important to know the first warning signs of an infestation.  

If you've already been bitten, you might see red or purple itchy spots on your skin. Bites usually occur in larger numbers, leaving behind clusters of irritated skin that can resemble skin conditions like hives or heat rash. However, bear in mind that it takes time for these bite marks to develop. It can take up to 2 weeks for bedbug bites to become noticeable on your skin.  

On the other hand, not all reactions will be the same. In fact, many people facing an active infestation will be bitten—and experience zero symptoms. Even while under the same roof, one person might experience redness and inflammation while their housemates see no visual markings of the bites at all.

In other words: bites are not typically the first signs of an active infestation—and sometimes they don’t even appear as visual signs at all.  

If you've recently traveled, take a close look at bedbug typical hotspots. Examine any clothing or luggage that traveled with you, on your box spring, mattress, or folded away in bedding, on furniture near your bed. Bed bugs flattened bodies make it easy for them to slide into small crevices.  

In the early phases of an infestation, you might also notice the following signs:  

  • A musty odor coming from your bed or other furniture.  
  • Small, period-sized stains on your sheets or mattress (bloodstains or fecal marks).
  • Shed bedbug skin, the same size and reddish-brown color as adult bed bugs.

Safe Ways To Use Heat Against Bed Bugs At Home

After spotting any bed bug warning signs or the critters themselves, don't hesitate to contact us for professional assistance. We'll connect you with a Pest-End team member to inspect your home, identify the source of the infestation, and start treatment as soon as possible.  

In the meantime, there are DIY strategies we recommend to begin hitting your uninvited guests where it hurts.  

We've said before that bed bugs are resilient little creatures. Luckily, they do have one critical weakness that you can safely use to your advantage. Exposure to high temperatures can nip these parasites in the bud—119°F to be exact. If you’re able to, wash bedding, clothing, and other household linens in hot water and use the highest temperature dryer setting as your first step in the fight against bed bugs and to minimize any potential infestations.  

When the Pest-End team arrives, we’ll follow up with professional-grade treatments to get your critters out for good. After methodically inspecting your home, we’ll use a combination of liquid and dust treatments alongside a specialized vacuum to remove bed bugs. Post-treatment, we’ll also install mattress and box spring encasements designed to keep bed bugs out, protecting your bed against any future infestations.  

We know just how crafty and persistent bed bugs can be. If they do return after our team leaves, we’ll be back to take care of any remaining critters—guaranteed.  

With The Right Team, Bed Bugs Don’t Stand A Chance

You might've heard horror stories about bed bug infestations. It's true that complete removal isn't an easy process—but with the right strategies for removal and prevention, bed bugs are as good as gone.  

We've had the opportunity to work with apartment complexes and landlords across New England to ensure their residences stay pest-free. One case in particular had our team at 3 different properties. Today, each of those residences is now happily bed bug free!

A Word From Our Neighbors

"Pest-End has been nothing but excellent with their bed bug services. We appreciate the extra mile you guys go to thoroughly communicate issues and explain what we need to do to get back on track. We definitely recommend Pest End to the businesses around us as they actually get things done and care about their customers. Currently, they serve 3 of our properties and we are hoping to expand those services throughout our company. Thank you for all you guys do!"

During your post-holiday season return home, let us know if we can help with any suspicions of uninvited guests that may have tagged along. We’re happy to answer your questions about bed bugs or other nuisance pests and pave the way for a pest-free new year.