Summer Travel Tips: Keep Bugs Out of the Fun
There are an estimated 3,200 different species of mosquitoes, and they are found on all 7 continents… so no matter where you vacation, you run the risk of an encounter with these nasty bloodsuckers. Not only are mosquitos super annoying however, they can be dangerous. Mosquitos are vectors of disease, some of which are extremely detrimental, and even potentially deadly to humans. As such, it is extremely important to take precautions to protect yourself
Mosquitos are attracted to body odors, warmth, movement and, especially, the exhalation of carbon dioxide. Their ability to sense these qualities make them experts at honing in on their human hosts. By putting up shields to block these senses, you have a chance at protecting yourself from a swarm of the pests. Techniques of shielding yourself include, wearing clothing that covers your exposed skin, applying mosquito repellant, burning citronella candles, and even using oils such as lemon eucalyptus to repel the bloodsuckers.
Oddly enough, mosquitos can actually also recognize people by their scents and scientists have found that mosquitos will learn to avoid people who are particularly aggressive swatters. This means the more you swat, the safer you may be. However, while these scientific findings showed that swatting helped keep away individual mosquitos, it in no way indicates that their friends will stay away as well. This explains why it often seems like swatting and slapping doesn’t help – you may think it’s the same mosquito coming back while in fact it may be a number of different little bloodsuckers.
Stay safe this summer! Don’t forget to pack the mosquito repellant… especially if you know you are going to be on the water or in a wooded area.
Camping trips, hiking in the woods, and rock climbing are all very popular summertime recreations. However, these activities can all put you at risk of picking up a very unfriendly creature: ticks.
Ticks are most commonly active between April and September. Before you go outdoors, it’s important to be aware of where you may come into contact with ticks and how to properly treat yourself and your gear (if hiking, camping, etc.) to repel the bloodsucking arachnids. When hiking or camping, avoid extremely heavily wooded areas with extensive foliage – walk in the center of trails and pitch your tent in a clearing. You can also treat your clothing and gear with permethrin products and use EPA approved insect repellants on yourself. When you return indoors, you will always want to examine yourself, your clothing, and your pets carefully. The sooner you spot a tick, the better chance you have of removing it before it can latch on to you and transmit harmful pathogens into your bloodstream.
If a tick has bitten you, it’s very easy to discern from other insect bites as tick itself is often present within the bite, its head burrowed into their human host in order to feed. When you find such a tick, it is important to remove it immediately and be checked by a physician. In particular, it is important to be aware of signs of infection or disease. For example, in the case of Lyme disease, which is infamously passed by ticks, it is common that the victim will develop a circular rash around the site of the bite.
Currently, one fifth of Americans either knows someone who has dealt with bedbugs or has had a bedbug invasion in their own home – making it the most prevalent spreading infestation in the United States today… and they continue to be on the rise. Bed bugs are roughly the size of an apple seed and can be as thin as a sheet of paper, making them experts at hiding. Their name is also a bit of a misnomer as these arachnids can be found a multitude of places – not just inside beds. In fact, common places that bed bugs can be found include restaurants, movie theaters, schools, office buildings, hospitals, army barracks, and even public transportation. While you may visit some of these locations on a trip, more often than not, the biggest risk for vacationers are hotel rooms. Bed bugs are photophobic, which means they do not like being in the light, they prefer dark places to hide such as the interior spaces of luggage, as well as purses. This is the reason whey hotels and motels have become such hubs for passing bed bugs – they crawl in and out of luggage, hitchhiking around to homes throughout the US.
So how do you avoid them? A fantastic first step is to check the Bed Bug Reports (https://www.bedbugreports.com) for your intended hotels. These reports will not only inform you if the location ever had an infestation, but they include the dates and sometimes even photographs and room numbers of where the bugs were spotted. Even if your hotel isn’t listed, it doesn’t mean you’re completely in the clear. When you first arrive at your hotel room, inspect your room carefully, even using a flashlight if possible as bedbugs will try to hide in dark areas. Some of the key areas to look include the creases of the mattress (underneath the fitted sheet), the crease between the headboard and mattress, and the cracks and corners inside drawers or closets. During your stay, avoid leaving any clothing or bags directly on the floor and try to instead use tables or luggage racks that will make your bags more difficult to reach. Also, you may be putting yourself at risk by unpacking your clothing into any dressers, so avoiding this when possible can help you stay bed-bug free.
If you suspect that your precautions weren’t enough, and you’ve stumbled upon bed bugs. Here are some tips to avoid spreading them back into your life:
- If you are getting back into your car or a taxi, try wrapping your luggage in a garbage bag to reduce the risk of the bugs spreading during transportation.
- If bed bugs were confirmed, it is often the best course of action to toss your luggage. While you may miss out on a bit of an investment, the cost of ridding your entire home of the nasty bloodsuckers is far worse on your wallet, well-being, and sanity.
- Leave shoes and any other items that may have been infested outside of your door. Inspect and clean all these items before bringing them back into your home.
- Wash all clothing that may have been exposed in extremely hot water. Or, if the clothes are already clean, try putting them through a hot cycle in the dryer as the heat will kill the bed bugs and their eggs.
With a few precautionary steps, you can protect yourself and your family from hitchhiking creepy-crawlers and disease carrying biters. Stay safe this summer and have a great vacation!