motelBed bugs have become almost epidemic in some areas of the U.S., and even high-end hotels and lodges have found the little critters in their rooms. Bed bugs are easy to transport and can live up to a year without eating, so they can become a problem quickly. As South Carolina criminal defense attorneys, we travel frequently and have found that the following tips to avoid bed bugs have been helpful.

Know what bed bugs are and what they look like.

Bed bugs feed on blood at night and disappear during the day. Their bites leave red marks or welts, which often appear in a row on your arms or legs. The Cornell University Cooperative Extension has created a card to take with you when you travel to show you what bed bugs look like and how to inspect your hotel room.

Research the hotels or motels you plan to stay in.

The Bedbug Registry at is a database of bed bug reports from around the U.S. and Canada. Google the name of each hotel or motel with the words “bedbug” and “bed bug” to see if anyone has reported them. You can also check with sites such as and to see if there are any negative reviews related to bed bugs.

Call and talk to the desk clerk.

Most reputable hotels and motels are keenly aware of the problem and proactively spray regularly. If you call and the desk clerk seems evasive or doesn’t want to talk about their bed bug control plan, find another place to stay.

Inspect your room before you bring luggage in.

Get out a flashlight and look for blood spots, bugs, shed skins, or feces (which look like pepper) in corners, cracks, and crevices near the bed. Search around the headboard and the mattress, especially near stitching and seams. Check the bed frame, bed ruffles, and where the sheets tuck in. See if the sheets, pillows, or pillowcases have old blood spots. Open the drawers of bedside tables, and check upholstered furniture, behind pictures, and inside drapes.

If you do find evidence of bed bugs, ask for another room, but do not accept one that is adjacent to the infested room. You’ll need to repeat the inspection in the new room.

Keep your luggage and possessions away from possible infestation.

If your room passes inspection, do not assume all is well. There could be a recent infestation from the guest before you. Do not put anything on the bed or on the bedside table. Always keep your luggage and bags (including purses) on racks away from the wall, on tables with metal legs, or in the tub. Buy some plastic bags that seal to put your bedclothes in, and do not add them to your regular luggage.

After you get home . . .

While just one pregnant female can start an infestation in your Folly Beach, Ladson, or St. George home, the good news is that bed bugs cannot live in very high or very low temperatures. When you return home, leave your suitcases outside, and wash and dry all your clothing (plus purses and bags if possible) on the highest temperature settings possible to kill any hitchhikers. If you cannot wash or dry something, put it in the freezer for at least three weeks.

Do you have any additional tips to avoid bed bugs?

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