Traveling Bed Bug Free During Vacation

by Marcia Anderson

A close friend, Sandra, recently contacted me for advice on a bed bug incident she had in a shore bungalow she had rented for a family vacation.

It was not until the family noticed strange bites on the second and third mornings in the bungalow that they thought to look for bugs. They found bed bugs on the mattresses, box springs and on bed frames, and that was just for starters. They also found some behind the night stand and tucked into floor moldings. She sent me photos to confirm the diagnosis. Yes, they were bed bugs, and lots of them. You can see an example of them mounded along the seams of the mattress in the photo below.

Bed bugs in mattress seam

Nothing like a bed bug scare to bring the entire family together! Sandra admitted that neither she nor her husband inspected the dwelling before they moved in all of their luggage. In addition, they promptly plopped their suitcases on the beds when they arrived.

Based on the number and life stages of bed bugs that I saw in her photographs, those insects had set up house long ago and have been happily biting and breeding for many months.

Sandra confronted the owner, but she swore that the property never had bed bugs and the family must have brought them in and infested her property. They argued, but to no avail. It was a painful and time consuming lesson.

Many people have a fear of bringing bed bugs home due to the social stigma associated with them.  Once established, bed bugs can be very difficult to eliminate. One reason is that bed bugs have developed resistance to many commonly used pesticides. Another is that they hide in very tiny places and only come out to feed every fourth or fifth day.

The best advice that I can give vacationers to avoid a repeat of Sandra’s story is to go to the EPA bed bug website and download the Travelers Beware of Bed Bugs card. Keep it in your wallet and follow the directions carefully when you are about to stay anywhere outside of your home. The University of Minnesota also has an informative flier on inspecting your hotel room for bed bugs.

It is recommended that you:

  • Leave your luggage in the car a few extra minutes or place it in the rental property’s bathtub.
  • NEVER lay luggage on the bed.
  • Use a small flashlight (LEDs are best) and magnifying glass to look for signs of bed bugs. If you have children, you can all play Sherlock Holmes while you inspect the mattress seams, box springs, headboards, upholstered furniture, luggage rack, and other places around the room for bed bugs. Anyone who finds one gets a prize.
  • Say something immediately if you find any bed bugs. You stand a better chance of bargaining for bed bug-free lodging.

Tips for travelers to prevent bed bugs

If you are concerned about bringing bed bugs home with you, download EPA’s bed bug prevention, detection and control flier and follow the directions carefully.

Bed bugs should be managed using an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach.  IPM is a long-term, sustainable, approach to successful pest management. IPM programs address not only the safety concerns of using pesticides, but also focus on solution-based practices that identify, solve, and prevent future pest issues. Bed bug IPM is not a one-size-fits-all method or silver bullet, but rather a combination of biological, cultural, physical and chemical tools that minimize health and environmental risks.

It is better to be safe than sorry and to take precautions when it comes to bed bugs.  Because once bed bugs become established, they can be very costly and hard to control.

Sandra and her family followed all of the IPM steps they were given to insure they were bed bug free when they returned home. They placed all of their clothing in tightly sealed plastic bags inside their luggage until it could be washed and heat dried. They also placed the luggage in large plastic bags so, just in case a bed bug did decided to hitchhike home with them, it would not be welcomed inside. They placed their books in clear plastic zip-top bags and small electronics into separate zip-top bags until they could be carefully inspected and cleaned. Finally, they purchased a few sets of bed bug interceptors to place under the legs of their beds and couch to trap any wandering bed bugs…just in case.

Have a safe and bed bug free vacation!

 

About the Author: Marcia is with EPA’s Center of Expertise for School IPM in Dallas, Texas. She holds a PhD in Environmental Management from Montclair State University along with degrees in Biology, Environmental Design, Landscape Architecture, and Instruction and Curriculum. Marcia was formerly with the EPA Region 2 Pesticides Program and has been a professor of Earth and Environmental Studies, Geology, and Oceanography at several universities.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Recognizing Our Sustainable Materials Management Award Winners

By Rachel Chaput

EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Program represents a systemic approach to using and reusing materials more productively over their entire life cycles. It represents a change in how our society thinks about the use of natural resources and environmental protection. By looking at a product’s entire lifecycle, we can find new opportunities to reduce environmental impacts, conserve resources and reduce costs.

The group of winners all helping to divert solid waste from landfills. Keep up the great work!

The group of winners all helping to divert solid waste from landfills. Keep up the great work!

Each year, EPA issues SMM awards at the national and regional levels, to recognize our best performers within the program. On January 11, an awards ceremony was held at our Region 2 office in New York City, to distribute the awards.  Links to the award announcements can be found below.  Region 2 would like to announce our regional award and certificate winners for three SMM challenges, and thank them for their great efforts and contributions toward improving our environment and our lives.

The Food Recovery Challenge (FRC) Partners pledge to improve their sustainable food management practices and report their results. FRC Endorsers educate others about the value of the FRC program. Organizations are encouraged to follow the Food Recovery Hierarchy to prioritize their actions to prevent and divert wasted food. In 2015, Region 2 FRC partners diverted 30,077 tons of food from the landfill through their collective activities.

The EPA WasteWise program encourages organizations to achieve sustainability in their practices and to reduce select industrial wastes. Participants demonstrate how they reduce waste, practice environmental stewardship and incorporate sustainable materials management into their waste-handling processes. Region 2 WasteWise partners diverted 925,352 tons of municipal solid waste from landfills during 2015. Regional WasteWise winners:  Kearfott Corp., Curbell Inc., and Brown’s Superstores: Shoprite at Brooklawn.

The Federal Green Challenge (FGC) challenges EPA and other federal agencies throughout the country to lead by example in reducing the federal government’s environmental impact. In 2015, Region 2 FGC partners diverted 7,678 tons of municipal solid waste from the landfill, and saved 59,536,360 gallons of potable water and 18,371,639 kWh of energy through their conservation activities.

Click here for a list of the Food Recovery Challenge regional award winners (scroll down for Region 2): https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/food-recovery-challenge-results-and-award-winners#2016Regional

Region 2 has one national FRC winner, the Town and Village of New Paltz.  Follow the link and click on ‘Town of New Paltz’ for more information about New Paltz’s good work: https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/about-2016-food-recovery-challenge-award-winners.

Click here for both national and regional Federal Green Challenge Award winners: https://www.epa.gov/fgc/2016-federal-green-challenge-awards.

For information on WasteWise and national Award winners, visit: https://www.epa.gov/smm/wastewise#awards

About the Author: Rachel Chaput has worked with the Region 2 office of the US Environmental Protection Agency for 24 years.  Before working in Sustainable Materials Management, she worked in Indoor Air programs and managed the Asthma grants program for ten years. 

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

ARE YOU – OR IS SOMEONE YOU KNOW – AN ENVIRONMENTAL CHAMPION?

It’s that time of year again, when EPA Region 2 seeks applications for its annual Environmental Champions Awards (ECA). Each year we honor environmental trailblazers – individuals, businesses and organizations that have contributed significantly to improving the environment and protecting human health.

EPA is now seeking nominations of environmental stewards from New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and eight federally recognized Indian Nations who have gone above and beyond for environmental progress in their communities. Winners will be honored at a ceremony in the Spring at EPA’s regional office in Manhattan. The Agency is accepting Nominations through February 3, 2017.

Last year, one of our ECA winners was Dr. Joseph A. Gardella, Jr., a distinguished professor at the University of Buffalo who served as co-chair of the Community Action Council at the Niagara Falls Storage Superfund site in Lewiston, NY. Dr. Gardella was instrumental in helping facilitate a dialogue between the community and the government which resulted in the excavation of 200,000 cubic yards of radioactive waste stored at the site, remnants of the Manhattan Project that produced the country’s first nuclear weapons.

To nominate an individual or organization, please visit EPA’s Environmental Champion Award webpage at http://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/environmental-champion-awards

The webpage includes details about award criteria, prior winners and application instructions.

Murray Fisher (left), Founder of the New York Harbor School, ECA winner Dr. Joseph A. Gardella, Jr., and EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck

Murray Fisher (left), Founder of the New York Harbor School, ECA winner Dr. Joseph A. Gardella, Jr., and EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.