When we were regularly traveling from home to hotel to hotel and then eventually back home, one concern we had was unknowingly getting a room with bedbugs. Getting bit up is no fun but what would be worse is bringing the critters back home with you.
People started to quarantine their luggage and contents outside of their house. All items need to be cleaned or sanitized before entering the house. Sounds kinda familiar to what people are doing now, if I think about it.
Back to the question. I was sitting here at home and saw an article about how low hotel occupancy rates are. Many hotels in Orlando, including most of the hotels servicing the major theme parks, convention center and international tourists are either totally closed or running with a skeleton staff.
If any of those hotels had rooms with bedbugs, would the lack of someone to feed on for months eventually lead to the elimination of these pests? How long do the little suckers live for anyway?
It’s unbelievably challenging to get a clear answer to this question on the internet. When you Google “bedbugs,” you’ll get a string of websites from removal services and online message boards. I tried to stick to educational or scientific sources, but even they don’t have a clear answer.
The length of time that a bed bug can live without feeding depends on what stage of the lifecycle it’s in. For young bugs, they go through five nymph stages, where they need to eat to progress into the next form. These will start to die off if they go without food for 20 days or more.
Mature bedbugs, however, can live for much longer. How long depends on environmental factors, mainly heat. In colder temperatures, but not freezing, bedbugs can reportedly live for over 1 year without food. At 73F (23C) temperature, the consensus is that the bugs can live for 2 to 3 months, but some reported cases are at 6 months.
I’d guess that’s because we don’t have any real-life studies with controlled conditions and even then, what you see in a lab might not be what happens in a hotel room.
I’m also guessing that while hotels aren’t going to turn off the a/c, it’s going to be set much higher than usual for a hotel with no guests. What difference is there between 73 and 80 degrees?
I wish I could come up with a definite answer but there’s not one to be found. That’s because we’ve never had a situation like this. All I can do is guess, or as they say in science, make a hypothesis.
I’d say that a significant number of bedbugs in hotel rooms will die off. Just like us, their travel plans have been put on hold. They are no longer being carried between hotels by unwitting guests. There’s been no food for them for weeks or, in some cities, for months.
While they’re not going to be gone for good, there will no doubt be less of them. You can bet the ones who are left are going to be hungry. For those first hotel guests, be on the lookout when you check into a room,
There are so many things that have never happened before. This was a question we never asked because there was no chance of it taking place. The number of variables thrown into the travel equation forces you to think about things you never had to consider before.
#stayhealthy #stayathome #washyourhands
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary