Got bugs and wonder where they came from? The answer might surprise you. Different bugs have developed interesting ways to hitch a ride into your home, such as stowing away in electronics, using used furniture for transportation, popping into your purse or hitching a ride… on you. Let’s take a look at common hitchhiking pests and how you can avoid giving them a ride to your home.
Common Pest Hitchhikers
These pests are adept at hitching a ride home with you. Knowing which bugs to watch for is the first step to avoid unintentionally inviting them in.
- BED BUGS – Bed bugs are infamous travelers and often crop up in hotels, however, one can hop on for a ride from any fabric-based public seating, such as chairs found in libraries, book stores and waiting rooms. Be cautious with used furniture, including wooden drawers, any fabric-covered furniture, mattresses and even electronics – bed bugs slip into vents on TVs and other larger electronics to hitch a ride to your home. Items that are being sold out of a storage space aren’t any safer – bed bugs can go several months without feeding and it only takes one to cause an infestation.
- FLEAS – Even if you don’t have pets or have indoor-only pets, fleas are happy to hitch a ride and make a meal of anything alive and warm-blooded – including humans. They tend to grab a ride from the ground so shoes and pant legs are common stow-away spots. They also can transfer via their eggs on used clothing, particularly fabrics made of animal fibers like wool and cashmere. Here in South Carolina, the winter temperatures don’t often get quite low enough to kill them off so be on guard for them all year round.
- ANTS – Ants are drawn to the smell of food. The best way to avoid them is to keep all food containers tightly closed – particularly when transporting food from place to place. It may sound like a cliché but a picnic at the park can bring some unwanted guests back home with you if containers are not kept sealed air-tight.
- COCKROACHES – By cockroaches, we’re referring to German cockroaches, in particular. This is the smaller species of cockroach that is the primary cause of major roach infestations. Like ants, they are usually after food. Be careful with snacks carried in purses or backpacks to avoid attracting roaches into your bag and right into your home. They also travel in used furniture, inside boxes and on your clothes. NOTE: The Palmetto Bug common to our area is the American cockroach and while they will wander in and make themselves at home, they are well adapted to outside living and are less likely to create major infestations.
Avoiding Hitchhiking Pests
You can avoid allowing pests to hitch a ride into your home with awareness and a little precaution. Here are a few tips:
- Always read traveler reviews before booking a room in any hotel, motel, lodge or bed and breakfast. If you see any reviews that mention pests within the last year or two, consider choosing a different place to stay.
- When you do stay in a hotel, you’ll always want to check the room before you get cozy. Put luggage on a high rack in the closet (as long as no fabrics are up there) or in the bathtub while you inspect the room. Start by checking bed linens, inside pillow cases, along headboards and check the mattress – especially along the seams on both sides. If you notice any small dark brown stains, small bits of brown “dirt” or actual bugs, alert management immediately to be moved to a different room and different floor.
- Check yourself for hitchhiking pests before entering your home, especially when returning home from a trip. Inspect your coat, shoes and bags for stow-aways. When you return home with luggage, place it in the bathtub while you inspect it and unpack it from the bathtub, putting clothes and washable items directly into the washing machine when possible.
- Avoid buying used furniture, including wooden furniture like drawers or hutches, seating, sofas, mattresses and electronics. Reusing and recycling is good when you know and can trust the source of the items you’re buying used, however, a bargain that comes with a bed bug infestation will cost you far more in the long run than buying new.
Did a bug hitch a ride home with you? If you suspect one of these common pests hitchhiked into your home, call The Pest Force right away before that one pest becomes a major problem.