Q. We recently enjoyed several days with friends at their vacation condo. Now I fear we have bedbugs. Could these critters have traveled home with us in our luggage? How can we verify our suspicions?
A. Bedbugs can indeed hitch a ride in luggage. A visual examination by an expert can cost up to $200. Trained dogs are very good at detecting bedbugs, but may cost $300 to $600 for an inspection.
An inexpensive bedbug detector can be constructed at home for under $40. You will need some dry ice, a cooler jug to hold it and a plastic pan or dish to catch the bedbugs. Go to PeoplesPharmacy.com and search bedbugs to see the detector in action along with ways to avoid bedbugs when you travel.

Join Over 52,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

Each week we send two free email newsletters with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies and a preview of our award-winning radio show. Join our mailing list and get the information you need to make confident choices about your health.

  1. PF
    Reply

    Several years ago, someone brought bed bugs to my parent’s cottage. What a nightmare! We tried every home remedy on the net to get rid of them. We got rid of all bedding, curtains, towels, rugs, etc. Everything we tried seemed to just make them mad. I finally got professionals to treat the house. After three visits, we were finally rid of them.
    My advice if you see evidence of them in a hotel is GET OUT OF THAT HOTEL. They move fast and they move through the walls. They can also drop down from the ceiling. Do NOT put your suitcases in your car to heat treat them, you could get them in your car. I think you need to get rid of your suitcases. Throw them out. If you heat treat, they will move to a cooler spot if they can. They are extremely resilient.
    IF YOU GET THEM DON’T FOOL AROUND. GET A PROFESSIONAL who signs a guarantee for the agreed upon price. That insures that the pest control team will keep coming back until the pests are finally gone.

  2. LB
    Reply

    A helpful link:
    http://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2010/02/01/cheap-and-easy-bedbug-detector/
    University of Nebraska step by step instructions:
    http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/resources/338BedBugTrap.pdf
    Note: CO2 can be dangerous for anyone. People with bad lung disease (COPD, asthma, etc.) can have a serious problem if this is used without ventilation in their room. It also may make you short of breath since CO2 makes you want to breath. As on the enclosed instructions, CO2 (from dry ice) in an enclosed space can build up dangerous levels of pressure.

  3. eb
    Reply

    No trouble seeing any of these links for me – I’m wondering if there’s a glitch making it not work on some people’s computers? It was all very clear when I checked on mine, including how the detector works and the travel tips.

  4. Woody
    Reply

    After hours of staring and seeing NO action, I can only conclude bedbugs travel faster than the speed of light as the action must have occurred when I blinked.

  5. Ralph H.
    Reply

    I cannot always find dry ice. Is there anything else we can use? When traveling it is not always easy to know where to shop. Anything we can take with us when we leave?

  6. bjm
    Reply

    Disappointing. It’s just what I read in the newspaper. I wanted to read how to avoid them while traveling. Also, how does that detector work?
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: THE DETECTOR WORKS BECAUSE BEDBUGS ARE ATTRACTED TO CARBON DIOXIDE. THAT LEAKS OUT OF THE THERMOS OF DRY ICE. THE BUGS CLIMB THE PAPER RAMP, FALL INTO THE CONTAINER AND CANNOT CLIMB OUT, ALLOWING YOU TO SEE IF THERE ARE SOME THERE.
    IT WORKS BEST WHEN PEOPLE ARE NOT IN THE ROOM. WE HUMANS ARE CARBON DIOXIDE SOURCES AND PROBABLY MORE ALLURING TO A BEDBUG THAN DRY ICE.
    THE LINK HAS BEEN ADJUSTED SO YOU CAN LEARN MORE ABOUT AVOIDING BEDBUGS WHILE TRAVELING. PLEASE TRY AGAIN.

  7. JT
    Reply

    We enjoy traveling and was looking for some easy tips to use when we travel. I was disappointed to see that there was not an article for ways to avoid bedbugs when traveling.

  8. bc
    Reply

    I am confused, where do we find the information about avoiding bedbugs when you travel. Not a user friendly site.

  9. eb
    Reply

    If you read the directions in the link, the bedbugs are attracted to the CO2 seeping from dry ice in the jug, walk up the gangplank and are trapped in the plastic bin.

  10. AB
    Reply

    Very interested to know how this contraption works.

  11. turtledog
    Reply

    I’m just trying to tell you I can’t see the bedbug detector in action, as you stated, and can’t find the ways to avoid bedbugs when traveling.

  12. LHB
    Reply

    I don’t see a detector in action. All I see is a pile of plastic things that are just sitting there. What action is there?
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: LEAVE THE ROOM FOR A COUPLE OF HOURS. (VERY IMPORTANT; OTHERWISE THE BEDBUGS WILL PREFER YOU TO THE CO2.) COME BACK AND LOOK IN THE PLASTIC TUB. IF THERE ARE BEDBUGS IN YOUR SPACE, SOME WILL HAVE CRAWLED IN AND BE UNABLE TO ESCAPE. THEN YOU’LL KNOW YOU NEED TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THEM.

What Do You Think?

Share your thoughts with others, but be mindful of protecting your own and others' privacy. Not all comments will be posted. Advice from web visitors is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. In posting a comment, you agree to our commenting policy and website terms and conditions.