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Bed bugs

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Have you ever encountered them?
11 years ago, July 13th 2009 No: 1 Msg: #79324  
D Posts: 49
The issue of bed bugs is becoming more common and the consequences can be very serious.

I have been fortunate enough to not have ever experienced bed bugs, but my cousin has. She stayed at a hotel that was infested with bed bugs, which followed her all the way home and infested her apartment as well. She had someone come in to remove/exterminate them, but it didn't work until a few tries later. She was bitten all over and it took a good while to heal as she wasn't aware that her apartment had been infested, until a few days after she returned.

So don't let the bed bugs bite! But if you have, share your experiences and tips on how to avoid them or how to deal with them. Reply to this

11 years ago, July 13th 2009 No: 2 Msg: #79334  
Bed bugs made a re-appearance in Europe a few years ago after they had been irradicated for decades.

I think I was bitten by them in a hostel in Berlin, Germany.

I have never heard of bed bugs following anyone home. As far as I understand they live in cracks and crevices of walls and furniture and come out at night to feed on people. They then disappear back into the walls until the next night. Maybe your friend had scabies or something like that and not bed bugs.

Mel Reply to this

11 years ago, July 13th 2009 No: 3 Msg: #79340  
D Posts: 49
Oh no, it definitely was a case of bed bugs. She went to the doctor a few days after returning home and the doctor told her that some bites were new. So she had some pest control people come in and they said there were bed bugs in her home. The bugs probably followed her home in her suitcase or in the outside lining of it. I've read some articles that advise travelers to avoid putting their suitcase on the hotel carpeted floor to lessen the chances of bedbugs getting to the luggage.

Because bed bugs readily hide in small crevices, they may accompany (as stowaways) luggage, furniture, clothing, pillows, boxes, and other such objects when these are moved between apartments, homes and hotels.


---- from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/bedbugs/#invade . It's from the Harvard School of Public Health and talks about the biology and management of bed bugs.

Does this topic make you itchy? Because writing about it certainly makes me itchy all over. Reply to this

11 years ago, July 14th 2009 No: 4 Msg: #79438  

Oh no, it definitely was a case of bed bugs. She went to the doctor a few days after returning home and the doctor told her that some bites were new. So she had some pest control people come in and they said there were bed bugs in her home.


Now, that is over the top! Bed bugs are disgusing but they are harmless appart from the itchy bites they leave. Reply to this

11 years ago, July 14th 2009 No: 5 Msg: #79448  
D Posts: 49
Yeah, except when they transfer diseases, then it gets serious. But hopefully most people are lucky enough to not experience that.

Do you have any personal tips for avoiding or getting ride of bed bugs? Reply to this

11 years ago, July 14th 2009 No: 6 Msg: #79450  

Do you have any personal tips for avoiding or getting ride of bed bugs?


I suppose the type of bug repellant that would prevent mosquitos from biting would also prevent bed bugs from biting.

But, bed bugs dont spread diseases. They dont transmit threatening diseases like Malaria. Reply to this

11 years ago, July 14th 2009 No: 7 Msg: #79519  
B Posts: 171
filthy creatures they are, i think i would prefer to stay in a place the had mice and i tell you im not fond of mice.

people can often mistake the bites for mosquito bites , as they only appear sometimes 12 hours or even a day or so later. but you have a row of bites together , get out of that hotel!

the little monsters, feed on you for five minutes or so, and when you brush them away in your sleep they recomence a short distance away, this can happen anywhere from 2 or 3 times to a row of 13 or 14 bites.

i stayed in a hostel in santiago, chile that had an infestation, the problem was that all of the duvets had dark navy covers which would be thrown on the ground in a heap while the cleaning girl replaced the sheets, then the duvets were put back on the beds unwashed. this enabled the bugs to get into almost every bed in every room.


when we told them, they had the place fumigated and we thaught the problem would go away, the next day there were more bites appearing. they said, oh thats because the bugs are still alive but they are dying.. i found some bugs and showed the staff.. they had the place fumigated again! and still the problem didnt stop .. in the mean time i had dome someresearch on the itnernet and had reduced the problem to almost nothign for myself but the rest of the people were getting bitten.


Do you have any personal tips for avoiding or getting ride of bed bugs?
I suppose the type of bug repellant that would prevent mosquitos from biting would also prevent bed bugs from biting.



tried, that.... you will still get bitten.



if your staying in a hotel and for some reason you have to stay there and cannot go anywhere else, and have already told management and they have done everything they can to sort it and have failed...

then its time to start killing them one by one. (the bugs.. not the hotel staff hehe)which is fairly effective, it doesnt take many to make your life hell and a big one will cause a lot of damage, so look for them and kill as many as you can.

change all the covers, take away any dark covers , if the duvet cover is dark take it off and leave the white inside part only. same with pillowcase.

turn over the mattress and inspect it, around the seems and edges especially, check the bed .. these guys tend to prefer wood than steel or plastic, and are extremely flat and can fit in between the cracks, if you reckon the hotel staff wouldnt be comfortable with you taking the bed apart, then just leave the bed frame exposed to sunlight for the day and the matress on its side so everything is as exposed as possible.

then make the bed before you go to sleep. tuck in the sheets tight around the edges and sleep with a sleeping bag liner and wear some tight clothes to cover your body but not anything complicated like a jacket because they can get into parts of that too and be transferred with you to another place.

also keep in mind that they are shy to light and always come out one hour before sunrise. so set your light to come on 2 hours before sunrise and that may scare them off, coupled with the brightness of the white sheets.

oh ... and always keep your belongings away from the bed and off the ground , and bags closed .


but as i said.. if you get bitten by one of those things, your crazy not to just leave the hotel.

Reply to this

11 years ago, July 15th 2009 No: 8 Msg: #79529  
I was staying in a reasonably up-market hotel in Sydney, Australia, recently and noticed bed bugs hiding in the pleats of the window curtains. The management apologised profusely and moved me to another, bedbug free, room.

They told me that they were usually brought by other travellers in their luggage and were becoming a growing nuisance throughout the industry. They had fumigated all of the rooms and then had the rooms sprayed with a wall sealant so there were no cracks for the bugs to hide in but they still found places to hide - like the curtains.

The first time I ever encountered bedbugs was many years ago in a hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan. I found out by inadvertant trial and error that they don't seem to bite you when you're stoned! 😊. Other than that I know of no way to avoid being bitten.

John Reply to this

11 years ago, July 15th 2009 No: 9 Msg: #79608  
3 posts moved to this new topic: Travelling in Afghanistan Reply to this

11 years ago, July 16th 2009 No: 10 Msg: #79706  
B Posts: 5,195
I stayed in a KL hostel just before moving into my apartment here last November - and got infested with bed-bugs. (had bites before - but never actually got infested)

Little tear-dropped shaped beetle like insects - that scurry at surprising speed - the bites are like infected mosquito bites - very itchy - and tend to be raised inflamed and in lines.

Unfortunately - I didn't realise for a few days - assuming mosquitoes - until I actually caught one running on my neck - after putting on a clean t-shirt.

To remove the creatures - everything I owned was hung on the balcony in bright strong sunlight - all my clothes were machine washed (hotter than normal) - and after dropping from the seams of my backpack I found a few corpses.

That was the last of that - but - part of the problem with guests panicking and changing hostel without these precautions - is that they just get carried to the next accommodation; one or two find a crevasse some where and continue the cycle. There are also too many hostel owners who do nothing. If a room has bedbugs - guests need to be moved and the belongs need to be debugged - and the room needs to be treated.

Problem is - unless all hostels in a region act responsibly - there will be the ones that continually reseed the others.


My story - about a month later the hostel closed down - and hasn't reopened. Probably due to the passing stories of bed-bug nightmares.
Reply to this

11 years ago, July 17th 2009 No: 11 Msg: #79875  
We came accross bed bugs THREE times while travelling! Ugh!!

The first time was on a tour in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. We woke up in the morning and I was mildly itchy, but didn't think much of it. By the time we arrived back in Hanoi, I was scratching my torso like a madman and finally lifted my shirt to see what the heck was going on ... I was COVERED!! The bites were mostly on my torso (chest, back, stomach, sides) and not so much on my limbs. It was awful. I was afraid of scarring and tried not to scratch ... my way of combatting the itchiness was to shower like 5 times a day.

Second time was in Kuala Lumpur. This time it was mostly Trevor waking up with bites, but we assumed it was either mosquitos or red ants because the bites didn't look anything like my bites in Vietnam and were sortof in a line on his arms and legs. After a few days, while making the bed one night, we actually saw one run across the bed! Nasty!! Then we went on a crusade, pulled back all the sheets and blankets and checked the edges of the mattress. We found a massive infestation, with nests and dead bodies and bugs running all over. It was absolutelly disgusting. That night we went to the front desk, explained what we saw and slept in a different room. We checked out in the morning.

Third time was in Ko Samui, Thailand. By the second time we had gotten wise and checked beds before we accepted rooms, but somehow we missed this batch. We stayed for a few nights and at the first sign of bites, we once again tore apart the room and ta da - there they were again. We told management but still checked out.

Our understanding is that once a hotel/hostel gets an infestation, it's almost impossible to get rid of them. Usually the problem runs much deeper than what you see on the edges of the mattress and often they've got nests inside as well. Ewwww!!!

Happy Travels!!
Kristena and Trevor Reply to this

11 years ago, July 17th 2009 No: 12 Msg: #79883  

A couple of years ago we were staying in a hotel in Bangkok. We noticed that one morning we both had lines of bites on our arms. One of my arms was covered in raised bites.

That afternoon, we went for a lie down in our room. As we were lying there, I noticed a bug walking towards Kris. I killed it and it left a blood splat.

Since Kris used to work in pest control, he's somewhat of an expert on annoying crawly things. So he checked out the room. There were loads of bodies down the side of the bed. Some of them were quite big. Beetle sized. The memory of them makes me itchy.

We told reception, who moved us to a new room. Before moving our bags, Kris checked out the new room. Sure enough, bugs everywhere.

So we checked out. We moved to a new hotel but didn't unpack anything. We wrapped the clothes we had been wearing/sleeping in in plastic bags. We then put the bags in a freezer. And then washed everything on a hot wash.

Luckily, we didn't seem to transfer them to anywhere else. It's really easy to do.

Kris says that a lot of the big hotel chains in the UK have massive bedbug problems because of the high transfer of International business travellers. And once they have them, it's really hard to get rid of them.

If high brand name hotels can't get rid of them, using International pest control companies, what chance have small hotels/hostels got?

My bites took months to clear. Not pleasant.
Reply to this

11 years ago, July 17th 2009 No: 13 Msg: #79886  

Some of them were quite big. Beetle sized.


Looks like I got off lightly in the hostel in Berlin. I just got some itchy bites on one elbow and there were no bugs big as beetles. Looks like the hostel was keeping them under control.
Reply to this

11 years ago, July 17th 2009 No: 14 Msg: #79953  
D Posts: 49
Reading these stories make me cringe and itch all over. But I'll remember all your tips for dealing with bed bugs when I travel. Thanks everyone! Reply to this

11 years ago, July 18th 2009 No: 15 Msg: #80007  
I was extremely unlucky. I've caught bed bugs in a few places...
They were supposedly a problem right before I arrived in a particular hostel (which I am quite fond of) in Antigua. In fact, I was late checking in because they were putting new mattresses in. I didn't notice them or get bit there.
The other place I encountered them was at the Weary Traveler in Tulum, Mexico. The hostel owner was pretty cool when I asked him if I could wash my stuff to get the bed bugs out, but I'm almost positive his woman (who was washing them) made off with my favorite polo shirt. :/ I was told that the hippies that hang out in Chiapas bring them into Tulum. Dunno if there's any truth to that.
After submerging my bag, washing, and sunning my things... I didn't encounter them again for a while.
Then... I caught them in Cuba. It definitely wasn't me cause I didn't get bit once after Tulum, until I got to this casa at 107 Aguacate St. in Havana Vieja... which was well over a week later. I got ripped to shreds- basically eaten alive. I got relief again after leaving, and didn't bring them back with me.
The first good bit of advice I was given abroad was- Don't put your pack on your bed... which I kept to for the most part.
I was really lucky that I didn't have to get rid of everything before coming home- though I did leave my stuff on the back porch, until I washed it. :P

Reply to this

11 years ago, July 18th 2009 No: 16 Msg: #80047  
I am surprised no one has mentioned Australian hostels! They are absolutely awful for bed bugs. My friend and I had a particularly horrific night in a hostel/hotel in Cairns. We had dropped our bags and immediately gone to the cinema to watch a film we had been really excited about seeing, arrived back in good spirits quite late, to be told by two guys who were attempting to sleep that the beds were absolutely crawling with bed bugs. We looked and, sure enough, they were EVERYWHERE! What was bewildering was that the guys were still continuing to sleep in the beds despite their bodies being covered in bites. We went to reception immediately and demanded to be moved, we found out the room they moved us to was the room they put everyone who has got bed bugs in! We managed to get some sleep, it was late and we had little choice, but in the morning I saw bugs crawling all over the place. I have never felt so disgusted in all my life! Staff were hardly apologetic, and offered to put our backpacks in their industrial freezers - a procedure they did for all bed bug cases.

But this does not kill bedbugs!!

After encountering bed bugs at other hostels in Australia I had become quite the expert at destroying them and ALL items must be heated in a tumble dryer (I'm sure people use other methods but on nearly all occasions I was told this was the only way bugs are killed). Tip: washing your clothes and fabric belongings does not kill bed bugs, they will survive!! EVERYTHING fabric I owned went through the tumble dryer on at least 3 occasions whilst in Oz. Some hostels dealt with the problem very well, immediately spraying the mattresses, changing all the bedding, and compensating me for putting everything in the dryer. But this particular hostel in Cairns was appalling.

I have never encountered bed bugs in any other country except Oz, although I have only travelled extensively in Europe, Oz, NZ and Japan.

As far as I am aware the bugs cling to fabric and are often in the mattress seams. So even if you have a fabric wash bag it needs to be heated up. As Ali says, putting everything you own in the sun can do the trick just as well as a tumble dryer.

Long post! The memory of that Cairns hostel still gives me the shivers, truly disgusting!
Reply to this

11 years ago, July 20th 2009 No: 17 Msg: #80254  
I think the problem lies in the attitude to some of the backpacker hostels. I can't speak for the rest of the world but I can for South Africa. I've experienced bedbugs in South Africa on two separate trips, one in 1998 and then again last December.
Some of the hostals are lazy and arrogant. They act like they are doing you a favor for letting you stay there. They have a captive audience so they feel they don't have to try. A steady flow of budget conscious backpackers on RTW trips that will always choose their hostel over a nearby hotel. They work on the principle that just because they are a few rand cheaper then normal hotels that you the backpacker will just have to put up with what you're given. Which is sometimes dirty bathrooms, and bedbugs!
As our trip evolved in South Africa I realised that in fact hostals pitch their prices just a little under local hotels and guesthouses. It's often not much of a saving to use hostals in South Africa if you look around for alternatives, unless of course you are sharing a dorm in which case it's always going to be cheaper than a hotel. We always had a private room.
In the end I wondered if it was worth it staying in hostals sometimes because of the noise from the bar half the night, or the attitudes of the staff with all the rules and key deposits and being treated like a kid etc.
On balance though I should mention there were some great hostals in South Africa, clean and good value with friendly owners and staff.


Reply to this

11 years ago, July 21st 2009 No: 18 Msg: #80310  
B Posts: 71
I was basically eaten alive by bed bugs in a hostel in Berlin, Germany. Maybe it was the same one Mell???
The only thing I could do was get in the shower and slowly turn off the cold water until the water was so hot, I could barely stand it. That seems to relieved the itching a bit.. But I was covered head to toe in bites. Literally. It was that bad that when I met a guy from Brazil in Hamburg he saw my feet and didnt say anything because he thought it was a disease or something. The only thing that helped was sleeping in a long clothes, like long sleeves, long pants, beanie etc... They dont seem to bite through clothing. Plus I moved beds and afterwards it was fine. But those bites were around for quite a while afterwards...

Im not a fan of bed bugs! Reply to this

11 years ago, July 21st 2009 No: 19 Msg: #80313  
Im reading all these comments and literally itching all over.
I'm staying here with my husband in Pamplona, Spain and I just....a couple minutes ago discovered the little critters. I will not hesitate to say, I panicked, because I didn't think I would have ever had to deal with this insect after first discovering it in New York two years ago.

One week after we came here, about a month ago, I realised that my arms and back were covered with little swelling...itchy...really itchy. I watched for about a week or so to see if it was moving to other parts of my body, and well it did, got a spot on my face and made my husband rush me to the nearest hospital. In that moment we thought i had an allergic reaction to something that i continuously consumed during that week, waited about three hours to hear that my swellings can be insect related. I was not convinced because I DIDNT SEE ANYTHING...neither did my husband. (trust me he searched everywhere...in the air that is).

A couple weeks later he broke out with mysterious swellings, all overrrr his body were these bites, on his toes, on his arms, feet, neck. I really didn't know what to think anymore, until one night i was in the living room and discovered maybe 3 flying insects, smaller than the average mosquito, flying right infront of me. I immedately killed those, and ruled it out that they were mosquito bites. But then it didnt really add up. We kept all the windows closed, sprayed until the air was too toxic to inhale and we still got bitten. We both learned to cover from head to toe..but it never stopped. Bed bugs came to mind and I did check the mattresses, and the sheets are white so it was easy to spot something, i only saw small drops of blood that I thought came from him when he scratched his skin too hard..I flipped the mattress and saw no insects.

Then, tonight, I got my answer. When I was back in NY i remembered that when my sister found them they made a strange smell...can't miss it no matter what. I think it's when you squeeze them or something. Tonight I moved from my side and went to hug my husband and..guess what?....I got the smell almost immediately...I closed my eyes and said 'God no, I hope it's not what I think it is', so, learning from the short experience in NYC i understood that they run fast when you turn on the lights, so I grabbed my cellular phone and shon the light on my pillow where I discovered the smell and behold, there was a big one, and a blood drop right next to him. I almost screamed...i covered it with my palm and blew the whistle. I went crazy for a moment, held it between my fingers, and went looking for more. Right now I have a small collection of various sizes, all of which I would show management tomorrow.

Jeeze im itching all over thinking of it.... Reply to this

11 years ago, July 21st 2009 No: 20 Msg: #80314  
B Posts: 5,195
@Shannon - I don't remember the smell - but the blood drops on the white sheets - had those.

Can you describe the smell?

Can you take a shot or two of the bugs - in macro and upload?

Good luck with getting rid of the bugs! Reply to this

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