Summer in New England means it’s prime camping season, from the spectacular shores of Maine’s Acadia National Park to the sand dunes of Cape Cod. There’s no better time to get out there and enjoy the outdoors – except you do have those dang insects to contend with. Don’t let the summer ruin your next outing! Here are some tips to make sure your camping experience is the best:
- Avoid pitching your tent near wet or damp areas. While the thought of morning coffee by the lake might be tempting, that’s where the bugs will congregate. Pitch your tent away from standing water and wet/grassy areas, and always uphill to make sure your campsite is well drained.
- Keep insects out of your tent. Make sure to zip up the enclosure to your tent every time you enter or exit, and don’t store any food in there. Also, turn out the lights when you’re not inside, and bring along mosquito netting as an extra precaution.
- Dress appropriately. Now is not the time to show off those gym workouts; keep arms and legs covered, and wear light colored clothing to help you spot insects easier. When hiking, stick to the middle of the trail, and perform regular tick checks. Avoid trail blazing, too – but if you must, make sure to be extra vigilant.
- Bring along a First Aid Kit. Those boy scouts have it right – be prepared, especially when it comes to insect and tick bites! Make sure to pack 1% hydrocortisone cream, as well as anti-itch gel and tweezers for tick removal. If anyone has a history of insect venom allergy, be sure to carry an epipen as well.
- Store food properly. Be vigilant about getting rid of crumbs and food scraps, and make sure to store any opened items inside a cooler. Thoroughly wash and dry any cooking utensils, plates, and containers each time you use them. Dispose of any trash promptly.
For more tips on insect-free camping, head to Trip Savvy!
It’s officially summer vacation season, which means many of us will be heading off to lake houses and beach rentals – can’t wait to get there, right? Well, hold up a sec – along with fending off those late-night raccoons nosing through the garbage, you may have to gear up for other even more annoying intruders – those dreaded bed bugs. No matter how highly-rated your host is on AirBnB, or how many great stays you may have had in the past, bed bugs are always a potential threat in any vacation home. Here’s a helpful checklist to walk through when you arrive, to make sure you and your family are avoiding bed bugs:
- Know what you’re looking for. Bed bugs are small, brown, crawling insects the size of apple seeds. It’s common to have bed bugs, though, and not actually see them – so don’t settle in just yet if you don’t spy one of these critters!
- Check mattresses and bed frames. Look for anything that looks like dark smears on the top or bottom of the mattress – they could be excretions – along with tiny white eggs, about 1 mm long. Bed bugs also shed their skin five or six times, so look for discarded bug shells. These insects tend to hide in the joints of a bed frame and along the slats, so inspect those carefully with the aid of a flashlight. Look along the crevices of the headboard, and down the mattress seams.
- Next, scan the sofas and pillows. Inspect the cushion seams, inside any slipcovers, and along any zipper on a seat cushion or throw pillow.
- Check closets and floorboards. Unfortunately, bed bugs don’t just thrive in soft places; they can be found where there’s no cushioning whatsoever. Look anywhere where the floorboards or molding meet the wall; in closets, inspect corners, door seals, and joints.
- Don’t forget nightstands, bookcases, and lamps. Carefully inspect drawer seals and corners, removing books where necessary. Check the insides of lampshades, and underneath lampstands. In bedrooms especially, inspect alarm clocks, picture frames – don’t skip any bedside décor.
Want more information? Get the facts on our Bed Bugs page (http://www.callfreedompest.com/pest/bed-bugs/)
Preparation for your vacation
Before you leave on your vacation there are a few simple steps you can take to safeguard your home from infestation upon your return. By taking the time to follow these steps prior to your departure, you will decrease your chances of bringing home bed bugs.
- Carefully research your hotel prior to your departure by searching on Google for your hotel’s name – include the search criteria “bedbugs” or “bed bugs”. Read any recent reviews. If they have been treated for bedbugs, you’ll most likely hear about it online. If you see one unpleasant report, please, take it with a grain of salt. However, multiple bad reviews, or reviews which repeat a particular issue, can suggest that the property is not safe from bedbugs or other pests.
- Call the hotel and ask questions regarding bed bugs – what is the hotel’s policy on bed bugs? Has your room had any bed bug complaints? If they fail to provide you with straight forward answers or avoid answering the questions all together, that’s a dangerous sign and you should consider changing your accommodations.
- If you decide to continue with your trip as planned, start by packing a small bright flashlight to inspect the room for bedbugs upon your arrival.
- Pack a disposable luggage encasement or large contractor trash bag to put your luggage in when you arrive at your hotel room.
- Bring large zip lock bags for all the belongings you will be keeping out of your luggage, such as your keys, passports, credit cards, etc.
Upon entering your room, immediately take your luggage to the bathroom and place the luggage into the bathtub. Follow these instructions prior to settling in:
- In a hotel room the headboard is the only item that is not disturbed during daily housekeeping and is great harborage for bed bugs. By using your flashlight, try to get a good look behind the head board. If possible remove the headboard from the wall to get a better look behind. Most headboards are usually held on the wall with brackets, lift up 1 – 2 inches to remove. You are looking for several things – brownish black specks or bed bug feces, bed bug shells which are the bed bug exoskeletons and lastly, live bed bugs.
- Your next step is to take the bed sheets off the mattress and examine it carefully. Inspect the seams and the tag, as bed bugs often shield themselves in these areas.
- Now open all the drawers and cabinets in the room and look carefully inside for the same signs.
- When you have finished checking the room, carefully check to see the luggage rack is free of pests – look at it from top to bottom, and under the straps. Now place your luggage on the stand, being careful not to put any of your things on the bed or on the floor.
- If you determine the room to be unsafe and request another room, be sure to follow the same steps in the next room as the problem could be property wide, and not limited to one room.
- Once you have determined the room to be safe, take out your disposable luggage encasement (bag) and encase the luggage, being careful to only take out those items you are going to be using.
- Use the large zip lock bags for all belongings you will be keeping out of your luggage.
Before You Leave
- Inspect all of the items that were taken out of the encased luggage. After you have determined the items are okay, immediately place them in a separate bag in your luggage.
- Scan through your sheets with a flashlight before you leave. If you notice blood splotches, there is a good chance you have been bitten by bed bugs.
- Take the luggage out of the encasement and dispose of the encasement as you exit the room.
- Just prior to taking your luggage back into your home make sure you use the other encasement or trash bag and place each piece of luggage into the bag.
Arriving at Home
Even if you follow all the steps listed above, it is still very important to take precautions when you arrive at your home to avoid bringing any unwanted infestation. The best rule of thumb is to assume you have bed bugs, that way you will be more diligent in taking precautions. Bear in mind bed bugs are great hitchhikers, so it is just as easy to catch them from another suitcase on an airplane as it is from a hotel room. Sometimes the signs are not as clear, so it is best to continue to use caution to ensure your home remains safe from bedbugs.
- Do not bring your luggage contents into your home right away; it is best to leave them in the garage or in the car until you are ready to unpack.
- When you are ready to begin unpacking and laundering your clothing, it is best to carry everything into your home using a bag. Prior to washing your clothing, place the items in the dryer and using its hottest setting, dry your clothes for 30 minutes.
- Other items that cannot be put in the dryer should be wiped down with isopropyl alcohol before bringing them into your home.
- Your empty luggage should be vacuumed and inspected carefully before bringing it in your home. It is normally best to leave the luggage in the encasements or trash bags while they are in storage.
- Finally, make sure you dispose of all the bags that were used in transporting your clothes and luggage, in addition, remember to dispose of the vacuum cleaner bag after vacuuming your luggage.