As bed bugs make a resurgence around the world, researchers are taking notice. Recent studies have shown that bed bugs are more attracted to dirty laundry than clean, fresh clothes.
The Study of Bed Bugs and Dirty Clothing
This remarkable research was spearheaded by Sheffield University. The study took place in two identical rooms that were completely temperature controlled. Within the rooms, the researchers placed four tote bags of clothing. Two of the bags were filled with dirty clothing and the other two bags contained freshly laundered items. The room was filled with an increased concentration of CO2 to replicate a human sleeping.
The bed bugs were twice as likely to pick the dirty clothes over the clean items in the other bags. Another interesting occurrence that was noted in the research was that the increased CO2 in the room made the bugs even more mobile and willing to leave their hiding places in search of a meal.
Eliciting Host-Seeking Behavior in Bed Bugs
The study shows that bed bugs are attracted to the smell of a human that can be found on soiled clothing. The smell instantly elicited their host-seeking behavior in much the same way that the increased CO2 released into the rooms stirred the senses of the bugs and made them start to seek out a human to feed upon.
Bed Bugs Hiding in Luggage
During the study, if the bed bugs could not locate the human host that they believed was responsible for the increased CO2 in the room, they would head for the suitcase filled with dirty clothing instead. Interestingly, the bed bugs did not return to their hiding place in the room after but sought out shelter in the clothing, showing how easy it is to transport bed bugs home in your luggage.
Expert Advice from Sheffield University’s Dr. William Hentley
In an interview with Science Daily, Dr. William Hentley from the University of Sheffield stated, "Bed bugs are a huge problem for hotel and homeowners, particularly in some of the world's biggest and busiest cities. Once a room is infested with bed bugs, they can be very difficult to get rid of, which can result in people having to dispose of clothes and furniture that can be costly.
Our study suggests that keeping dirty laundry in a sealed bag, particularly when staying in a hotel, could reduce the chances of people taking bed bugs home with them, which may reduce the spread of infestations."
Preventing Bed Bugs While You Travel
The results of this research are undeniable. The very smell of humans causes the bugs to seek out a host. To avoid picking up bed bugs during your travels, you should place any worn or soiled clothing items in a sealed plastic bag and store them is a closed suitcase. You should also consider covering your suitcase with a plastic shell that is designed to prevent bed bugs from penetrating the confines of your luggage while you travel. Another tip is to keep your luggage in the bathroom, either elevated on a luggage stand or in the shower/bath. Even if a hotel room is infested with bed bugs, the pests rarely frequent the bathroom.
If you are a frequent traveler, be on the lookout for bed bugs. Take steps to prevent bed bugs from inhabiting your luggage – whether it’s dirty or clean!
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