Vacation time is near, don’t make bed bugs your souvenir!

Research conducted at Purdue University and published in the Journal of Economic Entomology found that bed bugs are developing resistance to two insecticides commonly used today by pest control companies. Using bed bug samples from 10 states including New Jersey, they found that 25% of the bugs were still alive seven days after exposure to the chemicals.  This is in addition to the significant resistance bed bugs have to previously used chemicals.



Use this news

While bed bugs don’t cause or carry disease causing bacteria like ticks do, they are still parasites that feed on blood – your blood!  Bed bug bites do cause redness, itching and in some people, serious allergic reactions.

Sign Up for E-News

A little bed bug history for those ‘itching’ to know – around the middle of the 1940’s, bed bugs were pretty much eliminated with the use of DDT and Malathion. But, in the late 1990’s they started to reappear, in hotels world-wide. Increased traveling, bug resistance to the chemicals used to control them and changes in hotel pest control practices, allowed bed bugs to make a roaring come back. 

Here’s the thing about these little critters – they are stealth hitchhikers!  We pick them up in hotel rooms and bring them home without knowing it. That’s because they hide during the day and come out at night to feed – on us- while we’re asleep.

 According to the University of Kentucky Entomology Extension, here’s where they hide during the day:

Seams, folds and crevices of mattresses, box springs




Box springs give them many places to hide, especially along the upper seams and underneath, where the bottom edge of the box rests on the frame.


Bed frames and headboards
        Cracks and crevices of wooden bed frames. Bed bugs like wood and fabric more than
         metal or plastic.

Wooden support slats, screw holes, knots and other places they can crawl into are also common hiding places.

Headboards attached to walls, as common in hotels, provide hiding areas behind them and are often the first place bed bugs become established.

Items stored under beds provide great hiding places. 

Upholstered furniture.

 Chairs, recliners and sofas especially if used for sleeping, are typically the next most   likely area for bed bugs to hide. They hide in the seams, skirts or in fabric folds.



Nightstands and dressers
          Bugs will hide in cracks, corners, and recesses.

Other common bed bug hiding places include:
            along and under the edge of wall-to-wall carpeting, especially behind beds and sofas          
            cracks in wood molding; ceiling-wall junctures
            behind wall-mounted pictures, mirrors, outlets and switch plates
            under loose wallpaper
            in closet clutter
            inside clocks, phones, televisions and smoke detectors.

What to look for when traveling:

  • Rusty or reddish stains on bed sheets or mattresses
  • Dark spots (about this size: •), which are bed bug excrement
               and bleed stains on the fabric like a marker would make.
  • Tiny, pale yellow skins that are eggs and nymph shells.
  • Live bed bugs.
    (For more pictures of the above go to:

Itchy yet?

Here are some tips to reduce the chances of bringing them home with you from your vacation:  

  1. When you first enter your hotel room - Put your luggage in the bathroom.
  2. Unmake the bed. Check the mattress and lift the box spring for signs of bugs.
  3. Leave your luggage on the luggage rack (after checking the straps) or a hard surface, not on the carpeted floor.

Bring large plastic bags and put your luggage in them for extra safety.

  1. When you get home, make sure you wash and then dry all of your travel clothes in a hot dryer for 30 minutes to kill any bugs that came home with you.
  2. Store your luggage in the garage or a hot attic (120o) to kill bugs that may be hiding. (Consumer Reports,

The Environmental Protection Agency offers these other tips to prevent infestation:

  • Check secondhand furniture, beds, and couches for any signs of bed bug infestation before bringing them home.
  • Use a protective cover that encases mattresses and box springs and eliminates many hiding spots. The light color of the encasement makes bed bugs easier to see. Be sure to purchase a high quality encasement that will resist tearing and check the encasement regularly for holes.
  • Reduce clutter in your home to reduce hiding places for bed bugs.
  • Vacuum frequently to remove any successful hitchhikers and empty the canister or change the bag afterwards.
  • Be vigilant when using shared laundry facilities. Transport items to be washed in plastic bags (if you have an active infestation, use a new bag for the journey home). Remove from dryer directly into bag and fold at home. (A dryer on high heat can kill bed bugs.)
  • If you live in a multi-family home, try to isolate your unit by:
    • Installing door sweeps on the bottom of doors to discourage movement into hallways.
    • Sealing cracks and crevices around baseboards, light sockets, etc., to discourage movement through wall voids.

If you find bed bugs in your home, call a pest control company. They are extremely difficult to eradicate yourself.

For more information:

University of Kentucky – Entomology Extension

 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
 Bedbug FAQs

Environmental Protection Agency
Protecting your home from bedbugs

Consumer Reports
How to check for bed bugs in a hotel

Joanna Hayden, PhD, CHES is the principal of Associates for Health Education and Behavior, LLC, in Sparta, a practice focused on improving health through education. Her office offers individual and group health education, and individual health behavior change guidance.  For more information please see  To contact Dr. Hayden, email her

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Millburn/Short Hills

Video: Scoutmaster Ken Fineran Street Dedication Ceremony

May 21, 2018

MILLBURN, NJ - Millburn Township and Boy Scout Troop 17 of St. Rose of Lima honored the life and accomplishments of late Scoutmaster Kenneth W. Fineran on Sunday, May 20. Troop 17 Scouts, in conjunction with Millburn Township and St. Rose of Lima Church.

Millburn Student's Bike Stolen, Millburn Police Investigating

June 12, 2018

On June 5, 2018 Millburn Police Officer Tavares responded to the Louis Vuitton store at The Mall at Short Hills on a theft report. Louis Vuitton personnel report a black male with dread locks wearing a black t-shirt, red shorts, black leggings, and white/red sneakers took two pairs of sunglasses valued at $870.00 and left the store without making payment. The incident is under investigation by ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 16

Summer is in the air, and the latest episode of AtlantiCast is ready to help you enjoy some fun outdoors while staying safe! This week’s episode opens with tips for sunscreen usage from Atlantic Health System’s Chief Medical and Academic Officer, Dr. Jan Schwarz-Miller. You’ll also learn about how Atlantic Health System is advancing the future of health care through ...

Get Empowered to Help Prevent Suicide

June 12, 2018

Over the past week social media and the news have been filled with stories and articles encouraging people to seek help if they’re in emotional distress. There have been countless articles about the need to break the silence around the topic of mental health and suicide, and I am encouraged by the support people are extending to others.

Often, the death by suicide by prominent ...

Upcoming Events


Tue, June 19, 7:30 PM

Town Hall - Committee Room, Millburn

Township Committee Meeting


Tue, June 19, 7:45 PM

Education Center, Millburn

Millburn Board of Education Meeting

Fri, June 22, 8:00 PM

Education Center, West Orange

Night Moves: Evening Guided Zoo Tours

Education Other


Sun, June 24, 11:00 AM


MakerFest 2018

NCJW/Essex Hosts The Five Stages of Career Transition with Motivational Speaker Frederica Peterson

June 18, 2018

LIVINGSTON, NJ -- On Tuesday, June 12, 2018, Frederica Peterson, Motivational Speaker and Career Coach, MA, CPC, ELI-MP, engaged nearly 50 women at the Linda and Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women about moving forward in one’s career and in life. Peterson examined how many women feel stuck and trapped in negative thoughts, but how with the right mindset it’s possible to ...

Millburn-Short Hills Democratic Committee Looking to Fill District Leader Spots

ESSEX COUNTY, NJ - The Millburn-Short Hills Democratic Committee is stronger than ever and proudly represents itself along with Essex County Executive Joseph Di Vincenzo and newly re-elected Essex County Democratic Chairman LeRoy Jones at the Essex County Democratic Reorganization meeting.

The local committee currently has a recorded 29 of 32 District Leader spots filled. We have a female ...

Canada Goose Retail Expansion Includes The Mall at Short Hills


From the Temperate West Coast to the Cool North East: Set to Open in Vancouver, Short Hills, and Montréal


TORONTO, ON – Canada Goose Holdings Inc. (NYSE: GOOS, TSX: GOOS), today announced the next phase of its global retail expansion, opening three stores this fall in Short ...