• Stormtrack's forum runs on Xenforo forum software, which will be undergoing a major update the evening of Wednesday, Feb 28th. The site may be down for a period while that update takes place.

Bed bug alert - hotel listings

As some of you may have heard, bed bugs are making a big comeback in the New York City and Boston area and have started spreading into much of the country. I've noticed many more reports of them in the Tripadvisor listings lately. They are definitely worth avoiding since they can be carried to your house and once established are extremely difficult to eliminate... there is already a discussion group on Yahoo with thousands of messages from a lot of desperate people. Personally I have never encountered them and most likely none of you have, either, so hopefully we can keep it that way.

A recent article in the Florida Times-Union said, "'The best way to keep bedbugs out is to be a savvy traveler, because hotels are a primary place where bedbugs "hitch rides" in the suitcases and clothing of guests', [a county extension technician] said. In September 2006, the American Hotel and Lodging Association joined the National Pest Management Association for a conference aimed at showing how hoteliers can identify signs of bedbugs."

In a few months many of us will be hopping from hotel to hotel for conferences and chase action. With that in mind, here's a list of places that should be researched before your stay. The listing does not confirm a bed bug infestation but simply indicates that reports are on Tripadvisor which are consistent with typical infestations.

* Oklahoma City - Clarion Hotel Airport
* Oklahoma City - Hawthorn Suites (vague)
* Tulsa - La Quinta Central
* Norman - Travelodge (prob. fleas)

* Amarillo - Kiva Hotel
* Big Spring - Comfort Inn
* Cedar Park - Holiday Inn Express [travel.yahoo.com]
* Corpus Christi - Days Inn Beach
* DFW Metro - Quality Inn & Suites DFW Airport (Irving), Clarion Hotel, (Irving), Baylor Medical Plaza Hotel (Dallas)
* Lake Jackson - Super 8
* Longview - La Quinta [travel.yahoo.com]
* Lufkin - Comfort Suites
* San Antonio - Regency Inn & Suites, Motel 6 S.A. Northeast
* Sweetwater - Motel 6
* Texarkana - La Quinta

* Abilene - Diamond Motel
* Hutchinson - Grand Prairie Hotel & Convention Center
* Junction City - EconoLodge
* Kansas City - Hampton Inn Blue Springs Mo.
* Lawrence - Holiday Inn
* Lenexa - Days Inn
* Manhattan - Super 8 [travel.yahoo.com]
* Salina - Holiday Inn
* Topeka - Fairfield Inn
* Wichita - Cambridge Suites Downtown

* Lincoln - Best Western Villager
* Omaha - Crown Plaza Old Mill

* Denver - Embassy Suites Aurora, Best Western Central, Brown Palace Hotel, White Swan Lakewood

* Albuquerque - Rodeway Inn Midtown
* Abiquiu - Abiquiu Inn
* Deming - Days Inn
* Carlsbad - Comfort Inn
* Taos - Best Western Kachina

* Deadwood - Best Western Hickok House (vague)
* Pierre - Pierre Inn & Suites (vague)

* Coralville - Econolodge (vague)
* Des Moines - Embassy Suites On The River (former site of Central Iowa NWA conference)

* Duluth - Hawthorn Suites
* Shakopee - Travelodge

For more information checking out a hotel, visit:
* http://travel.yahoo.com
* http://www.tripadvisor.com
I forgot about this thread, but I'm glad chasers have been lucky so far.

I did find that on TripAdvisor.com you can put in a search like "bedbugs wichita" or "bedbugs amarillo" and it comes up with relevant posts for that given city. Of course it's a crapshoot whether the posts are accurate, but to me it's cheap insurance.

Being that I have experience in this field, I'd like to add that bed bugs can and will be found anywhere, at any hotel. During my time in pest control, I saw them in poorly-maintained dumps, your average budget motel, and high-end resort settings. Protecting yourself from them is very simple, and basically what the article says to do will suffice, but from experience, I have a couple other suggestions:

1. If the hotel doesn't provide luggage elevators, or they don't provide enough of them, put your luggage in the bathtub. No, I'm not joking. It's the one part of an average hotel room where people don't sleep, and bed bugs therefore have no food source and probably won't colonize.

2. If the headboard on your bed is easily-moveable, pull it away from the wall (or even take it off) and have a look at the back of it. If you see clusters of little black spots near a crevice (i.e., the slot where it slides onto the bar that holds it to the wall), you've found a bed bug habitat. A note while doing this: if you see a white streak that looks like powdery paint on the back of the headboard, don't touch it. It's a residual pesticide left behind as part of a bed bug treatment. This doesn't necessarily mean that your room has had bed bugs--lots of hotels now are hiring pest control companies to do preventative treatments on their entire property--but it does mean you should look extra closely.

3. When you examine the bed and peel back the sheets, do it with a flashlight. Not only does it greatly improve what you can see in the folds of the mattress, but it will send any bed bugs scattering, and make them much easier to find. If there are small nightstands next to the bed, do a cursory check on those too, including inside any drawers. Bed bugs prefer to be on the bed and close to their meals' heads, but they'll go inside of adjoining furniture as well.

And finally, if you ever suspect bed bugs at all, go down to the hotel lobby and ask for another room as far away from your current room as possible. Bed bugs can spread into adjoining rooms through plumbing and wiring. If the manager (who is the only person you should talk to about bed bugs) doesn't have another room available or refuses to move you for some reason, insist that your reservation be canceled and a full refund be given to you. Any reputable hotel will do this right away. if you're staying the night at Bob's Transient Motel in downtown Dallas, they might not have a reputation to uphold, but any national chain motel manager knows that few things will kill their business faster than word getting out that they have bed bugs. There's a lot of paranoia about the little critters, and after seeing first-hand what happens when an infestation gets out of control, I would argue rightfully so.