Sorry to give you one more thing to worry during the pandemic but bed bugs will be making a big comeback. As everyone is itching to start travelling again, the last thing you want to see on your plane seat is a bed bug. While bed bugs on planes don’t get the same media attention as bed bugs in hotel rooms, they are a real problem when travelling. As they are travellers, they make their way onto a plane through another passenger’s luggage. Then crawl over to your luggage or take up residence in the upholstery of the seat where they will get to enjoy a free inflight meal…you!
What is a Bed Bug?
Bed bugs are oval-shaped and wingless insects. They do not jump, they crawl. Like mosquitoes they bite humans to feed on blood. More importantly, they do not transmit diseases. The adults are about the size of a lentil (slightly larger than 1/8 of an inch). Immature bed bugs (nymphs) start out about the size of a poppy seed and grow gradually through several stages until they reach adult size. Both nymphs and adults expand slightly and become a deep red color after feeding. Believe it or not they can survive as long as eighteen months without feeding.
It is very possible to be bitten by bed bugs while traveling, here’s how to avoid getting bitten by bed bugs on a plane:
Bring the right luggage
Reduce opportunities for bed bugs to set up shop by traveling with hard-cased luggage. Because these pests prefer fabrics, shell suitcases with no creases to hide are best for combatting these critters. For added awareness, buy a bag that is lighter in colour so you can quickly identify an insect trying to hitch a ride.
Choose the right seat
Aim for airlines with vinyl or leather seats. Planes with cloth and fabric upholstery make better breeding grounds for bed bugs. The less seams and cracks the better, as they offer fewer folds to hide in.
Bring your own pillow and blanket
Do you know where those airplane issued pillows and blankets came from before you boarded the flight? Probably not. So, to take out the guessing work and catch your zzz’s more comfortably by bringing on your pillow and blanket.
What if you find a bed bug on your seat?
Although you should be alarmed if you find any type of bug crawling on your seat, knowing what a bedbug looks like can help your case for switching seat. No one wants to mess with bedbugs. Try capturing the insect so the airline has evidence that it was, in fact, a bedbug aboard its aircraft.
If you do find one, alert a flight attendant immediately. Then ask if you can move, ideally to a section of the plane that’s far away from the infected row.
When an airline receives complaints about bed bugs, they launch an investigation. And, if necessary, they temporarily take the plane out of service and use specialist teams for a deep cleaning and extermination.
What to do when you get home?
Your number one priority should be making sure that you don’t bring the bedbugs into your home after getting off a plane. The most important thing to do is isolate your luggage and belongings when you return home. Place your luggage inside of a sealed plastic bag or another container that can prevent them from spreading. Launder your belongings on a hot wash and place into a dryer on the highest setting for a minimum of 30 minutes. The dryer must be capable of reaching a temperature of >40°C to kill all stages and not be loaded to more than 50% capacity. Also, conduct regular pest checks to see if you have missed any bed bugs.
If bed bugs do manage to hitch a ride home with you, contact a professional, like us at Pestcheck Pest Control, right away before the infestation gets out of control. Tackling the problem quickly will save you time, money, and stress.