As we bid farewell to the warm days of summer it seems like the perfect opportunity to tackle one of the more common questions we get around here. Specifically, “Is there a bed bug season?”. You’d think that the chillier nights of fall would bring some respite from these hungry pests. After all, we’re used to insects disappearing during the autumn and winter months.
But bed bugs aren’t like other insects. They don’t hibernate during the winter. These troublesome pests are active all year round. However, the change of seasons does have effect on their activities and on how they interact with their human hosts.
Indoor Pests Ignore the Weather
Before we go any further there are a couple of points to consider. First, bed bugs are indoor pests. As a rule they prefer to live exclusively with humans, their preferred hosts. They are rarely found outside and are generally spared the harsher effects of the elements. So for the most part there are no specific seasons that are more suitable for bed bugs or more prone to promote their reproduction or spread.
Second, bed bugs are hitchhiking pests. We’ve talked about this before. Bed bugs typically spread from one location to another by hitchhiking on personal belongings. They get transported on portable items or lay their eggs in those same transportable items. Ultimately, the spread of bed bugs is largely due to our own behavior. The more we travel between potentially infested environments the more likely we are to bring these pests into our own homes and offices.
It’s What We do that Changes
While bed bugs are mostly indifferent to changes in weather our own seasonal habits do impact bed bug behavior. Apparent surges in bed bug activity can be linked to our own general seasonal trends.
For example, the summer season brings family vacations. The kids are out of school, the weather is fair, and the time is right to spend a couple of weeks traveling and having some fun. You might visit family in another state or head of to famous theme park or resort. Whatever your vacation plans you’ll likely be spending some of your time in unfamiliar locations – hotels, spas, or even just grandma’s house. This increases your risk of picking up bed bugs and bringing them back home with you.
For that matter, even your method of travel can heighten you risk for encountering bed bugs. Airports and bus stations are recognized hot spots for bed bug activity. As are rental cars and restaurants.
School Days School Days
With family vacations in the rear view mirror it’s time to start thinking back to school. With kids returning to the classroom the potential for the spread of bed bugs increases. There are a number of reasons for this, all which once again have to do with our own behavior.
Crowded classrooms and team sports bring kids into close proximity with one another. Book bags, gym clothes, and rucksacks full of sporting gear are perfect hiding places for bed bugs. It’s an ideal scenario for hitchhiking bed bugs looking for new homes to infest. Add sleepovers and study groups and the chances for spreading bed bugs between households greatly increases.
Finally, the holiday season is often linked to a major uptick in bed bug cases. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and even New Years provide ample opportunities for adventurous bed bugs. The chief cause is, once again, travel. Americans travel more during the holidays than any other time of the year and that has a major impact on the spread of bed bugs.
It’s not just about staying in hotels and motels, though that’s clearly significant. But even when your staying with family and friends you run the risk of picking up bed bugs from their homes. And this is no reflection on them. If we’ve learned anything over the years it’s that anyone can find themselves struggling with a bed bug problem.
Bed bug infestations can be hard to detect, especially in the early stages. Uncle Wes and Aunt Dot might not realize they even have a brewing infestation. But that won’t stop stray bed bugs from finding their way into your luggage and, eventually, into your home.
Peak Bed Bug Activity
When it comes to peak bed bug activity there’s no real data to suggest that one season is worse or better than another. What we do know is that whenever we travel we increase our chances of picking up bed bugs along the way. Surges in bed bug infestations can nearly always be tracked back to an uptick in travel, whether it’s local, national or international.
The best defense against the spread of bed bugs is to keep your eyes open and to take steps to minimize your risk of bringing any stray pest home with you. Diligence is the key. Inspect your luggage when you travel. Teach your kids what to look for in their gym bags and book bags. And if you think you’ve brought bed bugs into your home reach out for professional help as soon as you can.
Published by Scott Palatnik
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