Q How can I avoid bedbugs?
A Despite the sometimes panicky headlines—“Bloodsucking Bedbugs Are Everywhere” —the nation’s hotels aren’t exactly crawling with bedbugs. Even in big cities along the coasts—where the reviled pests have their strongest foothold—most rooms are bug free, says Gail Getty, a research entomologist at UC–Berkeley.
Even so, whether you’re checking into a stately lodge or a budget inn, Getty suggests you hunt for the pests for five minutes before getting comfortable. She starts by looking for black or red spots on a mattress corner under the sheets. Then she lifts up the mattress to see if any bugs—dark ones the size of an apple seed—are lying in wait. And she runs a plastic card (such as a room key) through the small crack behind the headboard. Fresh blood spatters mean a recently deceased bug.
Getty also checks the luggage stand, a notorious hot spot for bugs, and she never puts luggage on beds—too much potential for hitch-hikers. Once home, she puts all her clothes straight into the laundry. Bugs on a trip are bad enough. Invite them into your home, and you’ll have a nightmare only an exterminator can stop.
This article was first published in January 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.