When you think of Tampa you think of incredible beaches, world-class shopping, state-of-the-art clubs, 5-star restaurants, and the most diverse ecosystem of wildlife in the world. You don't think of bed bugs. But you should.
First, let's get one thing out of the way. Tampa doesn't have bed bugs because it is dirty. Despite what you've heard, bed bugs don't live only in dirty environments. They can be found in luxury hotels, 5-star cruise liners, and in the most opulent of homes. Saying that bed bugs will only feed in grungy, beaten down apartment complexes is like saying mosquitoes will only bite you if your haven't taken a bath in five days. These are both blood-eating insects. They don't care who they bite, as long as there is blood inside them.
That having been said, Tampa has bed bugs--plenty of them. The reason for the number of bed bugs is not because of grime, it is because of the number of travelers that pass through Tampa. This is a hitchhiking bug that spreads by laying its eggs in bags, luggage, pocket books, clothing, towels, and even laptop computers. If you're planning on going to Tampa for spring break, here are couple of tips that can prevent you from having a nightmare.
Before you bring all your bags into the room you'll be staying in, consider a quick inspection. Bed bugs live near their food source. That means beds, couches and chairs could have these bugs living in them. Check the mattresses, box springs, and any upholstered furniture for black sticky residue. Bed bugs will leave their excrement in the fabric of these items if they are infesting a room.
Do an inspection of all the sheets and pillowcases for tiny dried blood stains. Bed bugs sometimes drip from the mouth when they are done feeding. These spots will be dark brown in color.
Use a flashlight to check the backboard, outlets, and seams and creases of upholstered furniture for tiny brown bugs.
During your stay, put all your dirty clothes and dirty towels in a sealed plastic bag (like a garbage bag with the top twisted). Keep an eye out for bug bites that appear to be in a row or cluster. If you find bed bugs, report them immediately. The property manager should have a bed bugs plan in place. Believe me when I say, they don't want you to get bitten by bed bugs any more than you do. It is not good for business.
When you return from spring break, be sure to check the seams of all your bags for any stowaway bugs, or sticky eggs. The eggs of a bed bug will appear tiny and white.
Be sure to wash and dry all your clothes on the hottest temperature. This kills all stages of bed bugs from eggs to adult.
These easy tips should save you from a humiliating day at the beach with two dozen bites from your butt to your armpits, and keep you from having to get a bed bug treatment for your dorm room during finals. Now go let your hair down, have a blast, and be safe.