Bedbug inspections should be on your travel checklist

Posted Nov. 05, 2010, at 6:53 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:47 p.m.

Last week I had a chance to talk with Jim Dill of the University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension Pest Management Group.

We discussed bedbugs, everyone’s favorite topic.

As a child of the ’50s, I grew up only hearing about bedbugs in theory; no one I knew ever had any contact with them. That now seems like a wonderful time.

The news media has been featuring so many stories about finding bedbugs everywhere that it seems surreal.

Any place where a human can sit and there is some sort of fabric seems to be a place where one might pick up the little nasties.

Fortunately, they do not seem to be known carriers of any disease, but the thought of something sucking your blood while you are asleep is disturbing to say the least.

At least black flies and mosquitoes usually do their foul deeds while we are awake — and are outdoors. If they do find their way into our homes, they are forthright and will put up a proper fight for our blood.

Bedbugs can secrete themselves into furniture and a building’s structure and only come out once the lights go out. Ugh.

Understanding the enemy is the critical thing here.

It is critical to be alert when traveling. Jim has a video on YouTube that you should check out if you are going to stay in a motel. Just search for “bedbugs” and “University of Maine” on YouTube.

This is no longer a problem that only occurs in places that are far away from Maine.

Bedbugs have shown up in many parts of Maine.

This topic has conjured up another issue for me that relates to bedbugs.

It has to do with motels and hotels.

I have not traveled much lately, but whenever I do, it is always a concern to locate reasonably decent lodging for the night, especially in a new, unknown town.

My wife and I have a routine that we go through, checking the condition of the bedding, bathroom, cleaning surfaces and TV remotes with wipes. Of course, now we will be inspecting the mattress (a joyous experience, I am sure!) for bedbugs, as well as all the furniture.

My issue is this: the floors. All floors in most motels and hotels are carpeted, except for bathrooms. Carpeted floors are incredible depositories for a lot of dirt and critters. No one vacuums hotels very well. Housekeepers are always under the gun to get the rooms done and the carpets are not going to get the thorough cleaning that you might do in your home. And the dirt and bugs linger there.

Why are motel and hotel room floors not done in wood, laminate or even tile? One reason, I suspect, is that in our climate, carpeting feels warmer. Hard surface floors are also apt to show dirt more readily, but this is a good thing, isn’t it? Or it should be. Any hard surface will require more cleaning, more maintenance and this will affect the bottom line.

So I guess we can continue to wallow in dirt. Mark my words: If I find a motel that goes to hardwood floors or even laminate floors and also washes all the bed linens every time after a guest leaves, I will be there with cash in hand or at least a valid credit card.

Questions for Tom Gocze should be mailed to The Home Page, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402-1329.

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