Preventing Bed Bugs in Your Holiday Home
Preventing bed bugs in your holiday home is something that you might not think about until you have the misfortune to get an infestation. Whether your holiday home is for you and your loved ones or if you let it out, an infestation of bed bugs is not nice. Bed bug bites can be uncomfortable and itchy and are not the thing you or your guests want as a reminder of a stay in your holiday home. This guide is here to help in preventing and eliminating bed bugs from your holiday home.
Know Your Enemy
The first step to preventing bed bugs is to know your enemy. Bed bugs are very adept at hitching a ride on clothes or luggage or even pets’ bedding. They can sneak in from many unexpected angles, like shared laundry facilities, public spaces like changing rooms, or even through the walls from next door. It is all too easy to find they have made their way in to your home. For this reason, rest assured, the presence of bed bugs says nothing about the standards of cleanliness in your holiday home.
Like many a seasoned traveller, bed bugs are very good at surviving on very little sustenance and can hide out for long periods undetected and without food. They usually feed once every four or five days but a lack of bites does not mean they have gone for good. Once they have arrived, they are then very good at hiding out in small crevices and spreading from room to room or even next door. They are notoriously hard to get rid of and most people will need professional help to be sure they have been completely removed.
Having said this, there are many things you can still do to make an infestation much less likely in your holiday home.
First, learn to identify bed bugs and distinguish them from other pests such as fleas. Proper identification is of course key to knowing what to do next. Different pests have very different solutions.
With bed bugs, early identification of the problem can save so much hassle because of their particular skills at spreading and hiding.
They are brown, oval bugs, ¼ inch (6mm)-long with their legs tucked underneath. They lay tiny dark eggs and leave distinctive dark spots left from their droppings. There is also a distinctive, slightly sweet, sickly odour associated with them. If you are unlucky enough to have an infestation, try and notice this smell so you can identify it and find them early.
Prevention of bed bugs
- Block their entry into your holiday home. New holiday homes will be easier but it should be possible in most holiday homes with a bit of work. One bed bug infestation will convince most people that the effort needed to prevent them is well worth it.
- Fill all the gaps between pipes and the floor or wall where they pass through. Anything you can fit a credit card into (for instance, the gaps between some floor boards) will provide a refuge for bed bugs. Try and seal off or at least regularly hoover these areas, wherever you find them.
- Fit sweeps and draft excluders to the bottom of doors to prevent transition from room to room
- Declutter, paying particular attention to walls and corners where they can hang out.
- Vacuum clean the mattress and floors regularly especially round the bed. Remember, when you have finished, to immediately remove the vacuum bag and dispose of it in the outside bin.
- Use vacuum bags to store clothes. This is also a good idea if you are going to stay in a hotel or anywhere there is a risk you could give them a ride home on luggage or clothing. Hang your clothes up in wardrobes and opposed to in drawers to further minimise the risk if you are worried.
- Fit bed leg monitors – these are small trays that catch bugs trying to make it back on to your bed by climbing the legs. They are also a good detection device so you might want to use them for some time after an infestation to make sure they have not returned.
- Don’t forget to treat your pets’ bedding – they like the warm crevices here too
- Fit socket covers – bed bugs are good at finding paths between rooms and hiding out. They will use the electrical cables to travel along.
- Wash clothes and bed linen in as high a temperature as you can allow. Bed bugs don’t like high temperatures above 50ºC. It is sometimes said that sunlight kills bed bugs but in the UK the temperatures do not reach the level to affect them.
- Fit mattress covers on all the beds. These should be special pest prevention covers which are difficult to rip and have zips with no folds. Regularly check this for tears and other signs of bed bugs. The lighter the colour of your mattress cover, the easier the bugs are to spot.
- Check your rooms regularly
- Make sure that a check is on the cleaning schedule as a thing to be aware of and to check for every time. This is particularly important if you are letting your holiday home.
- If you are staying elsewhere remember to do a quick check of the mattress and around the bed. Their tenacious character means you really do not want the trouble when one quick check can avoid it.
Elimination of bed bugs
While these measures should cut down the chances of a bed bug infestation significantly, there is still the possibility that it will happen to your holiday home. If you are letting, this is a much greater likelihood. Rest assured that with readily available professional help it is a manageable problem.
Because of their ability to spread rapidly to other rooms and even other properties or to hitch another ride out and home to someone else’s, it is important to get help to eradicate them immediately.
Call a professional
There are chemical and non-chemical solutions to bed bugs which are best left to professionals. There are commercial sprays and treatments but calling a professional pest disposal removal service who can guarantee their work for a time after they have visited is the best option.
To find a reliable technician to help rid you of your bed bug problem, the British Pest Control Association is a good place to start. https://bpca.org.uk
This is a marketing article from My Holiday Home Insurance, specialist providers of insurance for holiday homes, leisure homes, holiday lodges and static caravans. Our team of experienced advisers are always happy to help, so for more information, call our Northampton office on freephone 0800 988 0890.