Schools are getting out for the summer and families across the country are looking forward to summer vacations. Whether you get the chance to take a week off and go somewhere exotic or can only spare a Saturday night away from home, vacations allow us all to unwind, relax, and refresh. Unfortunately, all of the relaxation benefits we reap from our vacations can disappear in an instant if we are unfortunate enough to bring bed bugs back home with us. There are two very important components to keeping bed bugs out of your home; the first is prevention, the second is monitoring. Although bed bugs have long been associated with seedy motels, that is no longer the case. Bed bugs are now being found everywhere from upscale hotels to resorts. It is no longer possible to prevent getting bed bugs by simply lodging somewhere expensive. There are some important prevention tips you can follow to avoid bringing bed bugs home from vacation. One is to pack, keep, and bring your clothes home in sealed plastic bags. Upon returning home put the dirty clothes directly from the plastic bags into the washer. Set the washer at the highest temperature the clothes will allow and wash and dry the clothing. The plastic bags should be disposed of outside so that no bugs will find their way into your home. Never return your luggage to your bedroom or sleeping area. Instead store it away in an attic or basement. Some of your habits while in a hotel can also help you to avoid bed bugs. Never place your suitcase directly on the bed. The best place to put your bag is on a suitcase rack, wooden dresser or other hard surface. Bed bugs prefer soft surfaces like fabrics so avoid storing luggage on or near bedding, carpeting, curtains, etc. Do not keep your shoes under the bed. No matter what you do to prevent bringing bed bugs home from your vacation, after you have been away it is a good idea to monitor your house for bed bugs. You can do this by inspecting your mattress, box spring, and bedding for bed bugs. Look for small (typically the size of a small grain of rice) rust-colored, wingless insects that are relatively flat and oval in shape. Many people think they look similar to a flat apple seed. If you find one, you may have bed bugs. It is also important to look for small dark spots (blood stains) often described as looking like sprinkled pepper. If you notice dark blood stain spots or bug casings in or around your bedding, mattress or box spring areas there is a possibility that they are either solid feces, eggs, shed skin, or blood blots from a bed bug. Unfortunately, it is sometimes hard for untrained eyes to identify bed bugs in their home. Unexplained small itchy welts on someone’s body are another sign of bed bugs. This is an allergic reaction to the bed bug bites. It is important to note that two people can sleep in the same bed and both be bitten but just one have this itchy allergic reaction. A more convenient and time effective way to monitor your house is with bed bug monitors. Catchmaster’s® BBEDS™ (Bedbug Early Detection System) and the Slider™ bed bug monitor are designed to detect bed bugs early, before an infestation sets in. Unlike having to check many different places, you simply place the BBEDS between your mattress and box spring and check the monitors when you change your bedding (typically weekly). The monitor was designed to create an attractive harborage area for bed bugs and the pest will get stuck to its adhesive pad when they enter it. Taking this simple step to monitor your home and sleeping area for bed bugs can alert you early on to a bed bug infestation and decrease the likelihood and severity of a future infestation if you take action promptly.