Every spring, millions of Americans plan vacations during their annual Spring Breaks. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) reminds those travelers that the best way to prevent pests like mosquitoes and bed bugs from ruining their trips is through preparation and awareness.
“Everyone looks forward to escaping to warmer climates during Spring Break,” noted Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the NPMA. “However, many travelers forget that whether visiting the tropics or cities in the US, they must be vigilant to avoid bringing pest-related illnesses and issues home with them.”
While bites may seem inevitable, mosquitoes can leave behind more than just an itchy welt. Travelers in tropical areas are susceptible to contracting mosquito-borne diseases, like West Nile virus and Dengue Fever, both reportedly on the rise in the US as well as South America, Mexico and the Caribbean islands.
Travelers must also take steps to prevent bed bugs from hitching rides home with them in luggage and clothing. The 2011 Bugs Without Borders survey found a significant increase in the prevalence of bed bugs in public places, including hotels/motels and college dorms.
To remain pest-free both during and after Spring Break:
- Use insect repellant containing EPA-registered active ingredients like DEET or Picaridin.
- Limit time outdoors or wear long sleeves and pants during dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
- If bitten by a mosquito, clean the area thoroughly, avoid scratching, and apply anti-itch cream.
- To inspect a hotel room for bed bugs, pull back bed sheets, inspect mattress seams, box springs, headboards, sofas and chairs for telltale brownish or reddish spots, shed skins or bugs.
- Avoid putting luggage on beds or upholstered furniture and store it in a plastic bag.
- Once home, inspect and vacuum suitcases before bringing them inside. Wash and dry all clothes on hot.
- Consumers suspecting an infestation should contact a licensed pest professional.