Bed bugs can become a nuisance in any living situation as they come out at night to feast on the blood of unsuspecting, slumbering victims. They can be a particular blight on multi-bed facilities like camps, where a steady buffet of campers rotates in frequently.
As a camp owner, learning you have a bed bug infestation can be a heart-stopping moment. If you know anything about bed bugs, you know they’re hard to eliminate. If even one survives, it could lay over 200 eggs in its life cycle, with eggs hatching in about 6-10 days, starting the nightmare all over again.
The good news is, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel when you find out you have a bed bug problem. When you learn all you can about bed bugs and you know how to spot the signs, you can abate the problem, treat bites accordingly, and prevent future infestations. Here’s what you need to know.
It’s so important to learn about the bed bug life cycle, how they travel, how they eat, where they hide, their ideal living conditions, and so on. Armed with this knowledge, you have the best opportunity to attack bed bugs head-on and eliminate them. Every camp owner and operator can learn a lot from the article “Over 201 Things to Know about Bed Bugs” that originally appeared in Camping Magazine.
If your camp has bed bugs, you’re sure to start getting complaints about bites. When this occurs, you’ll have to perform an inspection to verify that bed bugs are to blame. There are a couple of ways to do this. First, you can look for visible signs.
You’re very unlikely to see live bed bugs, as they hide during the day and come out at night to feed, so you’ll have to look for telltale signs like rusty stains on the mattress where bed bugs get crushed, as well as peppered spots of their excrement, often found near the seams of the mattress. You might also consider building a simple bedbug trap or even getting a camp dog trained to sniff out bed bugs.
Once you have confirmed a bed bug infestation, it’s time to start the abatement process, and it can be a long one. The first thing you need to know is that you’re not going to starve out bed bugs. They can live for months without eating, so taking beds or rooms out of rotation isn’t going to cut it.
The real trick is to be thorough. Bed bugs tend to hide in plush surfaces, but they can be killed by heat, so you might want to start by running linens like bedding and drapes through a hot wash or dry cycle. A temperature of 113 degrees Fahrenheit is needed to kill bed bugs.
Of course, this won’t work for mattresses and other surfaces. These can be vacuumed, but you could leave bugs behind. You’re going to need insecticides to solve your problem. While you can apply chemicals insecticides yourself, and many people swear by non-toxic diatomaceous earth, the truth is that you’re almost certainly going to need help from a licensed professional to safely and completely eliminate bed bugs.
According to the CDC, bed bugs do not spread disease to humans. However, their bites can cause itchy, uncomfortable welts that camp guests won’t appreciate. These can generally be treated by on-site care staff with over-the-counter remedies, but in rare cases, medical attention may be required.
The best way to prevent beg bugs is with a proactive strategy that includes bed bug resistant furnishings. Metal bunk beds with closed framing are a great start, and you can easily add protective mattress covers to keep bed bugs at bay. You should always be wary of second-hand items like plush furnishings and mattresses that could bring bed bugs into your camp. Vigilance is the key to preventing bed bug infestations.
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