Yes, you can get bed bugs on planes — here’s how to protect yourself

Despite being called bed bugs, you can find these blood-sucking bugs just about anywhere that are sure to survive the apocalypse. That’s why it’s important to know how to avoid getting bed bugs on an airplane. Seriously, no place is safe, and bed bugs on an airplane can quickly turn your vacation into a nightmare. While the name "bed bugs" makes it sound like the only place these blood-sucking insects can attack you is in your bed, you can actually get bed bugs in movie theaters, public transportation, hotels, and airplanes.

New Jersey news outlet FOX5NY reported that passengers on a flight from Newark Liberty International Airport to India complained about unwanted passengers in their seats. Yes, bed bugs bit people during the 17-hour flight, and one family claimed their young daughter had been bitten when the plane landed in Mumbai. While Air India tweeted that it was dealing with the issue, affected passengers - some of whom tweeted that they had spent $10,000 to fly their families to India in business class - were left in the ensuing days Here, they need to clean up their belongings and treat themselves. Bed bug bites. It's simply not worth the extra legroom, hot biscuits and free drinks.

Thanks to increased international travel to areas where bed bugs are still endemic, and a U.S. ban on the pesticide DDT, bed bugs are back and they're flying first class. If you don't know about bed bugs, these little apple-seed-shaped bedbugs were rampant in the early 20th century but were mostly eradicated in the United States by the time you were born. If you ask your grandparents about bed bugs, they'll almost certainly have a story. In fact, this may well be the origin of the dreaded "Good night, sleep well, and don't let the bed bugs bite you."

This isn't the first time bed bugs have been reported on an airplane, so it's important to know how to protect yourself. Before you swear off flying, consider this. If you want to reduce the risk of bringing bed bugs into your home to zero, you have to live in a home with no shared walls, never leave that home, and never invite anyone over. According to Cornell University, this is because bed bugs are skilled hitchhikers and can attach themselves to your suitcases, pant legs, shoes, and more. The good news, the university reports, is that bed bugs do not spread disease.

The bad news is that they only feed on blood, bites can leave large, itchy welts, and bed bugs are notoriously difficult to get rid of. Trust me: I unknowingly moved into a bed bug infested building in 2007 and it was, without a doubt, the worst experience of my life. However, if you want to avoid getting bed bugs on your next flight or hotel, the old adage "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" is the best advice.

The first thing you want to do is get a light-colored hard-shell suitcase so you can easily see if there are any items on the bag. You can also wipe down your hard-shell luggage with alcohol wipes as soon as you leave the plane or collect your gear at baggage claim. Scherzinger Pest Control recommends on its blog that you also bring your own pillow and blanket to reduce the risk of bed bug bites while flying.

Even if you don't get bitten, you can carry bed bugs (or bed bug eggs) to your next location if you cover yourself with a blanket that has bed bugs (or bed bug eggs) on them. Just checking the blankets provided on the plane is not enough. Adult bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed, but baby bed bugs are too small to be seen with the naked eye. "When you get off the plane, place your pillows and blankets in a resealable plastic bag to prevent bed bugs from hitching a ride," advises Scherzinger Pest Control. "Place pillows and blankets where they can be washed and/or tumble dried on a high temperature. Do not open the bag again until the contents are inside.”

You may also want to wear light-colored clothing when flying so you can immediately see if anything is crawling on you. When packing your carry-on, place everything in a plastic bag before placing it in your handbag. When you get home, wipe down your suitcase before putting it in your car, and don't take your suitcase into the house. Instead, remove all items immediately and wash them. Then, all luggage is inspected and wiped with alcohol before taking it home.

Place your luggage in a plastic bag before storing it, and never place your luggage under the bed. This is because you want to keep bed bugs as far away from their food source (your body) as possible. "Open your suitcase and wash and dry all clothing immediately on high heat to kill bed bugs. If there are items that can't be washed but can be put in the dryer, tumble dry them on high heat as well. If you're not sure whether they can be put in the dryer Medium heat something, consider freezing it,” advises Scherzinger Pest Control.

"If your luggage cannot be heated or frozen, store it in a sealed plastic bag for about two weeks and vacuum the inside and outside of it thoroughly. It is also recommended that you use a stiff brush and hot soapy water to scrub any cracks and cracks to remove eggs and dead bed bugs.”

I know this all sounds like a lot of extra work, but if you do bring bed bugs home, you'll spend a lot of time and money getting rid of them. Additionally, bed bugs can take an emotional toll and can trigger anxiety and depression, according to a study published in the journal BMJ Open .

That's because bed bugs only feed on blood, and they can survive for up to a year without eating, according to Scientific American. They tend to feed at night and hide during the day. If you wake up in the morning covered in bites and frantically search your bed for the source, you probably won't find anything right away. And, when you do see bed bugs, you're probably dealing with a serious infestation. Check out the Wiki How for a step-by-step guide on how to check for bed bugs.

If you find bed bugs on an airplane or in a hotel, report them immediately. You can also check the bed bug registry before booking a hotel to see if there have been any reports of bed bugs (you can also check out apartments on the same website before signing a lease). Unfortunately, reporting a pest is not enough. You have to do your best to make sure you don't bring them home.

Finally, if you do find that you brought bed bugs home after traveling, contact a pest control company immediately. In many states, if you are a tenant, your landlord is responsible for providing and paying for this service. Seriously, don’t wait to fix the problem. According to Scientific American , bed bugs lay one egg per day. While this may not seem like much, since they are so good at hiding, you will soon be hosting a large population of bed bugs and their extended families. #The more you know