Bed Bugs Have Found a New Home: Airplanes. Here's How to Spot Them

iStock
iStock

Few people expect intercontinental air travel to be terribly comfortable, but for the most part, we do expect it to be clean. So it's particularly horrifying to hear that in addition to worrying about things like making it through security, fighting fellow passengers for overhead bin space, and praying you aren't sitting in front of someone who will kick the back of your seat for the whole flight, you also have to worry about insect infestation when you fly. According to Thrillist and Fox5NY, Air India has had multiple reports of bed bugs in its business-class seats. It's not the first airline to receive bed bug complaints, either, so if you travel frequently, you should probably learn how to spot these pests.

On July 17 and July 19, two separate Air India passengers tweeted about seeing—and being bitten by—bed bugs on flights from the New York City area to India. And it wasn't in economy—one of the passengers said he paid $10,000 for business-class tickets for his wife and three children. After 17 hours in the air with bed bugs as seat mates, the passengers disembarked bloody and covered in bites. The Times of India reported that the airline had received reports of bed bugs on another flight on a different aircraft, but "appears to have ignored them."

But you can't just swear off Air India and assume you'll be safe from bugs on your next flight with another carrier. In 2017, a passenger flying from Canada to the UK on British Airways said that she and her daughter were bitten during their flight, too. In 2010 and 2011, British Airways and United Airlines both had bed bug infestations that left passengers riddled with bite marks. Travelers can easily carry bed bugs from their hotel onto a plane and then into their homes, and short of delaying every flight while the crew inspects and treats every seat, there's not much airlines can do to stop it.

The best you can do is be vigilant, and if you do see bed bugs (first, make sure you know what one looks like) tell a crew member immediately. To minimize your own exposure, cover yourself up—bed bugs can't bite through your clothes—and bring your own pillow and blanket. To really ensure you and your clothes stay bug-free, bring your own protective seat cover to put over your plane seat. You’ll look pretty wacky to your fellow passengers, but you'll have an extra layer of protection.

And before you attack your airline for exposing you to an infestation, consider your own role. Since bed bug bites might not become apparent until a day or two after you're bitten, it's possible that you might not notice them if you've only been at your hotel a short time. If bugs are biting you in your airplane seat, it's very possible that you're actually the one who brought them on the plane in the first place. That's why one expert, Joe Ballenger of Ask an Entomologist, told Lifehacker that he recommends alerting both your airline and all the hotels you stayed in if you find bed bugs after your trip.

[h/t Thrillist]

Driving This Thanksgiving Holiday? Here’s the Worst Time to Leave, According to Google Maps

Marcos Assis/iStock via Getty Images
Marcos Assis/iStock via Getty Images

For many people, cooking the turkey correctly or dodging political arguments with family members aren't the most stressful parts of Thanksgiving. It's having to share the road with millions of other travelers on the way to Thanksgiving dinner. If you're hoping to make this element of the holiday a little more tolerable in 2019, plan your day with data from Google Maps.

As Travel + Leisure reports, Google Maps recently published a roundup of Thanksgiving travel tips, including the absolute worst times to hit the road. You may think that leaving the day before Thanksgiving will give you a head-start on traffic, but according to Google, Wednesday is the busiest travel day of the week. Congestion peaks between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Wednesday in many parts of the country. If you have no choice but to travel on November 27, plan to leave earlier in the day before roads get too crowded.

It pays to leave the house early the day of the actual holiday. Around 6 a.m., roads will be clear in most major cities, with traffic gradually increasing throughout the morning and peaking as early as noon.

As people who regularly travel for Turkey Day know, getting to dinner on time is only half the headache. Traffic can be just as brutal on the way home. To make the journey as painless as possible, plan to leave first thing in the morning—ideally on Sunday, when most travelers have completed the trip.

Traveling for Thanksgiving is rarely as simple as driving to and from dinner. If you plan on making pit stops along the way, Google has travel information for that as well. According to Google search trends, "ham shops" are busiest at noon the day before Thanksgiving, and outlet malls reach peak traffic around noon on Black Friday. Here are some more stress-free travel tips for the holiday season.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

Journey to the Monarch Mosh Pit

iStock/Spondylolithesis
iStock/Spondylolithesis

Each fall, millions of migrating monarchs return to Mexico to wait out winter. The gathering makes Woodstock look like a business conference. Here’s how they get there.

Mosh Pit

In the mountains of central Mexico, the butterflies crowd on the branches of oyamel fir trees. The trees provide a perfect microclimate that prevents the butterflies from getting too hot or cold.

Texas Toast

After winter, the butterflies fly north to Texas in search of milkweed, where they lay their eggs. Many adults will die here; northbound monarchs generally live only three to seven weeks.

Juice Cleanse

One of the reasons monarchs love milkweed? Protection. As caterpillars, they absorb the toxins in the plant, which makes them less tasty to birds.

Connecting Flight

Eventually, a new generation of butterflies will make its way north to Canada. It takes multiple generations of butterflies to reach their final, most northerly destination.

Dine and Dash

On the way, butterflies will eat practically anything. Sure, there’s nectar—but they’ll also slurp the salts in mud.

Catching Air

When fall returns, a new generation of monarchs rides the air currents more than 3000 miles back to Mexico. They navigate by calibrating their body clocks with the position of the sun. (An internal magnetic compass helps them navigate on cloudy days.)

Latitude Adjustment

Monarchs “are one of the few creatures on Earth that can orient themselves both in latitude and longitude,” The New York Times reports—a feat sailors wouldn’t accomplish until the 1700s.

Southern Charm

Miraculously, each generation of southbound monarchs lives up to eight months—six times longer than their northbound descendants. Their longevity might have something to do with a process known as reproductive diapause (which is a fancy way of saying that the insects won’t breed until winter ends).

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