The summer travel season is upon us and millions of Brits could find themselves sharing hotel rooms with unwanted guests – vile bed bugs.
And Mario Stanchev, a London-based pest control technician, has warned travellers they’re at risk of accidentally bringing the creatures home, even if they’re staying in five-star resorts.
But don’t worry, Mario has revealed how to stop infestations in their tracks, with tips including storing your luggage in the bath to keeping swimming goggles in the freezer. And he’s also released a gruesome bed-bug video to underscore why following his advice is important.
A pest control expert is warning travellers about bed bugs and how they’re at risk of accidentally bringing the creatures home
He warned: ‘Don’t assume that because you’ve booked into a swanky five-star resort that you’re safe from bed bugs – you’re not.
‘Even five-star retreats can suffer an outbreak, simply because bed bugs hitch a ride so readily with other tourists.
‘If there are any sign of bed bugs, simply walk out of the hotel and find somewhere else to stay. ‘
That’s really important for backpackers who move from place to place frequently and who might be tempted to settle for basic accommodation.’
The skin-crawling video he has released shows holidaymakers who didn’t heed his advice and ended up with infestations.
The first clip shows the creepy creatures hiding-out in someone’s mattress, while the second is of bugs crawling all over the luggage the tourist brought home from holiday.
To ensure you stay bug free, here are Mario’s top bed-bug bashing tips:
At the hotel
Mario, who works for leading UK firm Fantastic Services, said: ”My advice would be to carry a torch and start checking the room before you even bring your luggage into it. ‘A cursory glance under the bed sheets will not tell you the full story.
‘Pull the sheets off, get your torch and check under the mattress, in the crevices of the bed frame and around the headboard. Don’t be shy about offending the hotel staff – you need to know for certain if you’re at risk.
Mario and the Fantastic Services team have also revealed horrific footage of some of the bed bug infestations they’ve dealt with. One photo shows a man’s body covered in bites after staying at a hotel
Mario Stanchev, a pest control technician, is pictured investigating an infestation
What to do if you have a bed bug infestation at home
If you’ve not taken the right precautions, you could end up with bed bugs in your own home.
And it’s here that the professionals need to step in to help.
Mario explained: ‘A bed bug extermination is typically performed in two visits, done two weeks apart.
‘The first sees every surface in the home treated with an insecticide. And the second visit uses a different insecticide to ensure that the insects don’t have a chance to adapt to the treatment and survive.
‘And as strange as this may sound, I actually recommend someone sleeps in the room in between the two treatments – in order to lure the bugs out of hiding and to ensure they pass through the treated spots and perish! It’s also to test whether there are any bed bugs left in the first place.’
For severe infestations, extreme heat treatment is recommended.
A specialist heater raises the temperature of each room up to 56 degrees Celsius, which kills the bed bugs in all stages of development in around two hours.
Mario adds: ‘Bed bugs can be resistant to some pest products, so you need to be sure you use a trusted pest control professional.
‘Prior to treatment you should relocate any pets, as well as any wax items, synthetics and electrical equipment. You should also remove all infected bedding and wash it on 60 to 90 degrees Celsius, wash any clothing found in the infested room on 60-90 degrees Celsius, and vacuum thoroughly.
‘And if the bed bugs are in your mattress, consider it gone. You’ll need to replace it.’
‘Store all your luggage in the bath or shower – the slippery surface makes it harder for any bugs to crawl into your bag. ‘
Also, put your dirty laundry in a plastic bag and keep it off the floor. And don’t wait until you get home to wash your clothes.
‘Find a laundry service and either wash them on a high temperature or dry clean before you board your flight to the UK. When it comes to dry cleaning, the chemical used – perchloroethylene – is known to kill bed bugs.’
Find a hard surface
Mario says: ‘Before bringing your bag inside your home, find a place with a non-carpeted surface, and then wipe the floor with a wet cloth.
‘These two simple tips will ensure that any bed bugs escaping the luggage will have a hard time finding a new hiding spot in your house. Now, look for any signs of bed bugs in your bag or clothes – actual bugs, cast skins, faecal spots, and so on.’
Mario advises: ‘Put all your clothes and washable belongings into plastic liner bags and seal them until you’re ready to put them in the washing machine. Now, set the washing machine to the highest temperature setting and set it going. If there are any bugs present, this should kill them before they have the chance to breed.’
Mario said: ‘Anything that you can’t or don’t want to wash – books, swimming goggles, gadget cases or your favourite baseball cap – place in the freezer at a minimum of -5ºC for a minimum of five days.’
Mario explained: ‘Once you’ve either blasted the bugs in the washing machine, or given them the deep freeze treatment, you can take the items out and then give them a thorough vacuum.
‘This is particularly important for your bag or suitcase, as you want to make sure any trace of these critters has been obliterated. Then, you need to remove the contents of the vacuum cleaner itself, wrap it in a plastic liner bag, and dispose of it outside immediately.’
Don’t be complacent
Mario said: ‘Bed bugs get everywhere – and I mean, everywhere. I’m talking about electrical appliances, picture frames, books, children’s toys and even in the head of a screw!
‘Zippers are another place where you need to be thorough in checking for an infestation, as it’s a common place for them to hide.’
- Mario Stanchev is a pest controller at UK-based firm Fantastic Services. Other pest control services are available.