Example of a bed bug. Photo by Content Providers(s): CDC/ Harvard University, Dr. Gary Alpert; Dr. Harold Harlan; Richard Pollack. Photo Credit: Piotr Naskrecki (http://phil.cdc.gov/phil/details.asp?pid=9822) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

No doubt you’ve heard the saying: “Don’t let the bed bugs bite,” at some point, and from June 4 to 10 during Bed Bug Awareness Week, you can comply.

But what exactly does the age-old phrase mean? It was actually was derived from a folk saying that goes like this:

“Goodnight, sleep tight,

“Don’t let the bed bugs bite.”

Essentially it suggests getting a good night’s rest, without the disturbance of bed bugs, according to Quora.com.

And with summer vacation right around the corner, the last thing you want to worry about is bed bugs hitchhiking along on your trip whether you are vacationing abroad or in San Diego for a staycation. Here are some important tips to keep bed bugs at bay offered by Nancy Troyano, PhD, BCE and director of technical education and training for pest control company, Western Exterminator.

  • When you arrive at your hotel: Place your luggage on non-upholstered furniture away from the bed at your hotel, such as on a desk. If you use a luggage rack, inspect it for bed bugs before plopping your suitcase down.
  • Keep your eyes peeled: Pull back the corners of bedding on the bed and check the mattress and box spring for bed bugs or signs of bed bugs.

There are a few tell-tale signs to be aware of as you inspect the hotel bed:

  • Bed bugs will molt and shed their skin before each new life stage. Often you can find these pieces of shed skin lying around areas of infestation such as in creases in the mattress.
  • Bed bugs also leave fecal deposits after they consume their blood meal. You can spot these small dots that appear as though you’ve touched a black marker to fabric, such as a mattress cover.
  • Make sure to pay special attention to seams, where bed bugs like to hide.
  • After vacation, take precautions: Treat your suitcase as if you already have bed bugs.
  • Do not to put your suitcase on your bed, couch or other furniture to unpack. Instead, try to remove the contents from the suitcase in an area such as your laundry room, kitchen, garage or foyer.
  • Once unpacked; store your suitcase in a non-living space if possible, such as an attic, basement or garage. If the suitcase must be stored under a bed or in a bedroom closet, then place it in a large trash bag first and tie the bag shut.
  • When you pack for your next family vacation, bring the items you need to pack to the suitcase, rather than bringing the suitcase into the bedroom or on top of your bed. An easy way to do this is to put your clothes, toiletries, and other items into a laundry basket and carry them to your suitcase. Remember that bed bugs can live for several months or even up to a year without feeding, so it’s better safe than sorry to be extra careful!