Bed bugs might not be something you think of when checking into a five-star hotel, however, travel is one of the most common ways these parasitic bugs are spread. Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Paul Blackhurst, technical academy head at Rentokil Pest Control said: “Although sunscreen and flip-flops may be at the top of the list of priorities, holidaymakers should probably also consider a rather more unwanted side- Effect of some hotel stays – bed bugs.
“The National Association of Environmental Health Companies (ANECPLA) has issued a warning to holidaymakers due to bed bugs living in five-star hotels in popular areas such as Majorca, Alicante and the Canary Islands.
“In recent years, the bed bug population has increased by more than 500 percent in Spain.”
Though people may think bed bugs are only drawn to unclean environments, it is “misconceptions” such as this that Mr Blackhurst says can put people at risk.
The general director of ANECPLA, Jorge Galván, explained: “We are concerned about the impact of the reactivation of tourism on a plague closely associated with the hotel sector and tourist homes: the bed bug.
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“This parasitic insect between five millimeters and six millimeters in length usually nests in beds, the folds of sheets, furniture or armchairs and feeds mainly on human blood.
“Its bite causes discomfort and even various allergic reactions, insomnia or stress.
“Due to their tiny size, they often stow away between clothes or suitcases, causing new infestations in homes, hotels or apartments.”
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Blackhurst shared some common “myths” about bedbugs which holidaymakers should know in order to reduce their risk of waking up with some unwanted bites.
He said: “It is important for holidaymakers and hotel owners alike to be vigilant against these tiny pests, and armed with the right knowledge to deal with them effectively.”
Myth One: Bed bugs can jump or fly
Mr Blackhurst explained: “Some people confuse bed bugs with pests such as fleas.
“Bed bugs cannot actually jump or fly, but they can run fairly quickly, around four feet per minute, which makes them hard to spot.”
Myth Two: Bed bugs can only be found on or around beds
Although their name may suggest they reside solely in beds, the expert explained they can also hide in other cracks and crevices around the bedroom, such as cupboards and carpets.
He said: “They will also take harbor in soft furnishings like sofas, curtains, chairs, and even in and around the seats of planes, trains, and coaches.
“These pests are clever hitchhikers and will happily take an easy ride with humans, as they like to be close to body heat and will inevitably be looking for their next meal.”
Myth Three: Bed bugs prefer unsanitary conditions
Although you might only expect to find these critters in unwashed bedding and unclean environments, the Rentokil expert says this is not the case.
He said: “Bed bugs prefer lots of people rather than a dirty environment, which means that luxury facilities can also make easy targets.”
Myth Four: Bed bugs can’t be seen by the naked eye
Bed bugs are small, but they are not so small you won’t be able to see them.
Mr Blackhurst said: “Adult bed bugs can be around four to five millimeters long, around the size of an apple pip, and grow larger after a feed, but it is often far easier to find traces of them than to see a live bug.
“They can be identified from small dark blood spots, which can look like mildew on the edges of mattresses, for example, dark faecal pellets and a distinctive sweet and sickly smell.”
Myth Five: Bed bugs can’t survive in luggage
Mr Blackhurst said: “It is very possible to transport these pests home in your luggage, particularly if you throw your suitcase onto your hotel bed.
“An easy solution is to place your suitcase or bag in the bathtub or shower, while you check the bed and mattress for any signs of bed bugs.
“You may also want to hang your clothes up rather than using the drawers.”
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Myth Six: Bed bugs are scared of light
Bed bugs might be most active at night, but that doesn’t mean they will scatter the moment you switch on the light.
Mr Blackhurst told Express.co.uk: “Bed bugs aren’t afraid of light, but they thrive best at night-time when they can get an easy feed from their sleeping host.”
Myth Seven: Bed bugs need a host to stay alive
Mr Blackhurst explained: “Bed bugs can survive up to a year without a blood feed, but female bed bugs will feed more frequently as they need the blood to develop their eggs.”
Myth Eight: Bed bug bites will wake you up in the night
Although you might notice a bed bug bite when the morning comes, you may not necessarily realize you are being begging.
Mr Blackhurst explained: “Bed bugs inject an anesthetic when feeding to reduce sensation, keeping sleepers from feeling the initial bite when they start to feed.”