How to avoid bringing bed bugs home from spring break

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Bed bugs are the one thing you don't want to bring home with you when you return from spring break.

Despite their name, the insects can get into all of your furniture, even air ducts, once they enter your house.

Whether you're staying in a cheap motel or a luxurious suite, we've heard horror stories about these creepy crawlers stowing away and getting into your home.

Inside your hotel room or short-term rental home, bed bugs could be lurking.

"They will stay waiting for the next host to come there," said bed bug expert Jim Stavropoulos, co-owner of Eco Tech Pest Control.

Jim Stavropoulos says if you don't think you could ever bring them home, think again.

"Bed bugs do not discriminate between the rich, the poor, the clean or the dirty," Stavropoulos said. "If you happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, you will get a bed bug and bring it home with you."

"Bed bugs hide really well. All they do is they come out and feed for ten minutes when you're sleeping and they come back and hide inside the bed."

As their name suggests, they love beds and people to feed on and they're really hard to see unless you're looking.

Jim brought Chatman along on a house call to demonstrate how to spot them. He said his crew only wears suits for extreme cases.

"So we found a bed bug on the zipper part of the mattress, of the box spring encasement," Stavropoulos said. "We see this all the time."

So what can you do to make sure you don't bring bed bugs home with you?

First, put your luggage in the bathroom as soon as you walk in your room or rental home. You can also place suitcases and bags on a luggage rack off the floor and away from beds or couches.

Next, check the sheets, mattress, box springs and even around the headboard.

Look for dark, rust colored spots. You may even see casings the bugs leave behind and eggs along hard surfaces like a picture frame.

If you find any signs of bed bugs, you should ask for a new room immediately.

"When you come home, do not bring the luggage in your bedroom," Stavropoulos said. "Instead, empty it out in the garage preferably. Put the clothes in a bag and launder it when you can."

Jim says don't let the thought of bed bugs ruin your trip. As with most things in life, there are risks.

But following these steps should put you at a good advantage of steering clear, so that the bed bugs don't bite.

Bed bug experts say if you notice that bugs are in your home, it's best to call an exterminator. Don't try to get rid of them on your own. It can cost anywhere from $500 to $5,000 to treat, depending on the severity and the size of the home.

He says bed bugs can also hide in airplane seats, bus chairs, pretty much anywhere humans sit and lay their heads and they're the most prevalent in major cities.

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