Summer is upon is upon us which means suitcases, travel and summer fun. But you should realize that next to eating, travel is the bed bugs favorite thing to do. If little Jane or Johnny are headed to summer sleep-over camp there are a few things you should think about when they return. Most importantly, are they bringing anyone else home from camp that is unwelcome?
Camps face an unusual challenge when it comes to bed bugs. First, everyone that is coming is from somewhere else. The camp has very little control on what is brought into their environment. Surprisingly there are families who consider living with bed bugs as “ok”, some just don’t know they have them yet and some have them but can’t get rid of them. So the likelihood of a camp growing a summer bed bug infestation is pretty good. In addition, many campers and counselors are not familiar with the sign of bed bugs. Bites can be chalked up to mosquitoes and frankly bugs are expected at camp. So a bed bug infestation may be inadvertently allowed to grow. Lastly, camps often have open buildings for cabins making the bed bug extermination effort very challenging.
That being said, protecting your home when Jane and Johnny come home is critical. Here is what I would do to protect my home…
- Educate your child on the signs, symptoms and the look of a bed bug. Education is the first tool.
- I very rarely endorse bed bug sprays, but cedar oil is a great repellent for bugs. I would spray the outside of my suitcase or camp trunk with cedar oil. Not sure how long it lasts so send it with them to camp for repeat applications.
- When the kids arrive home unpack the trunk in the garage. Separate laundry into garbage bags by color for heating. Fully close bags for transport into the laundry room. Move them one at a time as you do each load. Point is, don’t drag an open bag through your house that can drop bugs along the way.
- DRY the clothes on high heat first for an hour. Then wash and dry as normal.
- Dispose of the garbage bag OUTSIDE.
- If you are not in the mood to go through all this, pack your child in smaller suitcases and then get a hold of a PackTite. Then when they return home you can just put the whole thing in the PackTite for heating. Once the suitcase has been heated, it can be safely brought into the home.
Happy camp! And may the heat be with you!
Ashley, Atlanta Bed Bug Control Specialist