It was bound to happen sooner or later. With all the traveling that my mother and I do, we'd remarked that it was pretty amazing that we'd never encountered bedbugs. After all, they're at epidemic proportions in the US, with even the nicest hotels not escaping these disgusting parasites. But of course, we didn't really think it would happen to us. No one ever does.
I learned about bedbugs in my Master Gardener classes two years ago. I'll admit, I didn't pay really close attention to the details about them, because I never thought I'd need to know details. Little did I know that less than two years later, I would.
When Mom and I attended the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle in February, we stayed near the Convention Center, in a highly-rated four-star hotel. I chose that hotel because they'd had good ratings from people who'd stayed there and the cost was less than the other large chain hotel in the area. When we arrived, we found our accommodations to be lovely and clean.
While sitting in a seminar at the show, after our first night's stay, Mom whispered to me that something had bitten her leg and it was now itching. The next day, a couple more bites showed up. Hmmm...
The third night of our stay, Mom got up to go to the bathroom around 3:30 a.m. and I got up to turn down the heat. She remarked that her leg was really itching now and did I think maybe there were bedbugs and could I please check?
I walked over to the bed and no sooner did I get there when I saw a bug crawl across the sheet where my head had been laying just minutes before. I took a close look and don't you know - BEDBUG. I got a plastic container that I'd brought some earplugs in and I captured it. We got dressed and went down to the front desk and handed it to the desk clerk. "We've got a problem," I said, as I handed him the box.
He took a look at it, and obviously knew what it was. He calmly said that he would put us in another room right away, but we'd have to leave our belongings in the original room so that we didn't take the chance of spreading the bugs to our new room. We took only what we needed for the next day and after inspecting the mattress in our new digs, we quickly went back to sleep. NOT!
Neither of us could sleep at this point, so we discussed what might happen from this point on. I got online to see what the normal protocol was when encountering bedbugs in a hotel and in every instance I could find, full compensation for the stay was given to the hotel guest.
After our return, the hotel manager informed us that they had not found any bedbugs in our room and since they had "no proof" that any were there (!!!!), they would only offer one night's compensation. He said had they found proof of bedbugs, our entire stay would be comped. Well, several bites and a bedbug were all the proof we needed! We'd be contacting the hotel manager.
To the hotel's credit, they explained that they had a pretty aggressive bedbug detection system, with dogs being brought in once a week to detect them. But of course they can arrive at any time in between. And since we'd not had any issues with bedbugs in our homes or anywhere else for that matter, we were certain it wasn't us that had brought them in.
In the end, we did get our entire stay comped, and even though they treated our things, we took precautions after returning home. Our suitcases weren't brought into the house, but stayed in our garages. Bit by bit, I brought things back into the house, laundered them, and I used a blow dryer on my suitcase to kill any bedbugs that may have hitchhiked home. Extreme heat is the method of treatment.
The bedbug came home with me too, in its plastic case, though the hotel manager wanted to keep it. He took photographs of it and so did I. Once back at our house, I left it atop the refrigerator in the garage and I checked on it weekly to see how long it would take it to die.
My intent was to not bring anything from my suitcase back into the house until it was dead. Do you know how long a bedbug can live without food??? According to some sources, four to six months, maybe longer. I checked the bedbug periodically and finally, just this week, no movement was detected. The bedbug was finally most completely dead, 65 days after its capture.
Can I get an "Amen!"?
- Check the Bedbug Registry before you go, to see if the hotel where you plan to stay has had a problem with bedbugs previously.
- Check the seams of mattresses for signs of bedbugs when you get to your room.
- Check behind the headboard, where they can remain undisturbed for longer periods of time.
- Place your suitcase on a chair (not an upholstered one!) or shelf or cabinet, off the floor, preferably metal, since they have a hard time climbing on metal.
- Bedbugs are most active between the hours of 3:00 and 5:00 a.m.
- Bedbugs are more prominent in warm, humid climates, but they travel well.
- When you get home, put your clothes and other things in the dryer (set on high heat) before you wash them, to kill any bedbugs you may have brought home with you. Washing them won't kill them.
Sleep tight! Don't let the bedbugs bite!