Bed Bugs How Do The Spread

Bed bugs how do the spread

A look at how do you get bed bugs, how they spread in your home, where do the bugs live and hide as well as how to check for the symptoms of bed bugs.

Most people heard this little ditty growing up:

"Good night, sleep tight;
don’t let the bed bugs bite!"

As kids, most of us found that amusing. Bed bugs are no laughing matter, however; they are repulsive blood-sucking parasites. Their scientific name is Cimex lectularius. Like mosquitoes and ticks, bed bugs are insects that feed on blood. They are small (an adult is about a quarter-inch long), flat and oval-shaped.

Where Do Bed Bugs Live And Hide?

Bed bugs are particularly well-adapted to live parasitically on humans. So where do bed bugs live and hide? No bigger than apple seeds, they typically hide in tiny cracks in headboards, on bed frames, deep in mattresses, inside electrical outlets, as well as in furnitures. Bedding and mattresses provide the ideal breeding ground for these pests; the warmth and moisture – plus the warm bodies of hapless sleepers to feed on nightly – make the bed a perfect hiding place and home for them.

How Are Bed Bugs Spread And How Did They Get In My Home?

Bed bugs spread when an individual comes into contact with them in an infested room or apartment. Contrary to common belief, bed bugs are not attracted to dirt or filth and do not discriminate when it comes to infesting homes of both the rich and poor.

They have been reported to be found from the dingiest budget motels to the swankiest five-star resort – and these tiny pests spread by hitching a ride back to the victim’s home through the luggage or clothing.

Bed bugs can also sometimes spread through secondhand clothing bought at yard sales, from used furniture picked up off the curb or from refurbished items sold in stores.

Once the bugs are in your home, they will crawl their way into bedding or furniture upholstery where they stay dormant during the day but come out at night to feed on their victims.

How To Check For Bed Bugs: Signs And Symptoms

Like mosquitoes, ticks and vampire bats, bed bugs have evolved the remarkable ability to generate a natural anesthetic; as a result, people rarely actually feel the bites when bed bugs are feeding. Once bitten, however, the result is fairly noticeable. Like a mosquito bite, the bitten spot tends produce a reddish welt that itches a great deal.

One of the specific markers for bed bug bites is the presence of welts in rows; three or four welts that often appear on the skin very close together. This is because the insect responds to small movements as people sleep. It pulls out of the skin and continues with another bite right next to the first. In addition, several of the critters may be feeding side-by-side.

Another way of detecting the presence of bed bugs is to inspect your mattress and bedding. Are there any unusual small, reddish-brown stains on the bed sheets? These could be indicative of bed bugs which fed and were subsequently crushed, spilling their blood meal on the mattress or mattress cover.

To sum up, if you suspect you have been bitten by a bed bug, look for the following:

  • Rows of red, itchy welts on the skin that appear in a linear or clustered pattern
  • Consistent new bite marks or bumps that appear on your body every day
  • Reddish or brownish (dried blood) stains on mattresses or bedding

Tips To Prevent And Keep Bed Bugs Out Of Your Home And Bed

With rising reports of bed bugs infestation across various cities in the United States and around the world, the following are some simple prevention steps one can take to protect oneself:

    Do not pick up second-hand furniture off the street even if it look great. If you bought or rent a used furniture, have it inspected before bringing it back home.

  • If you travel, first check out Bed Bug Registry for any reports of bed bugs in the hotel you intend to stay. Once in the hotel rooms, always inspect the hotel mattress, sheets and headboards for any signs of bed bug activities.
  • When returning home from your travels, immediately have your luggage inspected in the bathroom tub and dump all the clothing to be washed in hot water (minimum 120В°F) for at least 20 minutes.

    Reducing clutter around the house and regular vacuuming to limit areas where bugs can hide.

    Invest in a bed bug proof mattress encasement to protect against an infestation inside the mattress as well as guard against bed bug bites.

  • Apply pesticides like bed bug spray and powders to defend your perimeters around the apartment, house or bed.
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    Bedbugs are small insects that often live on furniture or bedding. Their bites can be itchy, but do not usually cause other health problems.

    Check if it’s bedbugs

    Jeff March / Alamy Stock Photo

    Bedbugs can hide in many places, including on bed frames, mattresses, clothing, furniture, behind pictures and under loose wallpaper.

    Signs of bedbugs include:

    • bites – often on areas exposed while sleeping, like the face, neck and arms
    • spots of blood on your bedding – from the bites or from squashing a bedbug
    • small brown spots on bedding or furniture (bedbug poo)

    Bedbug bites can be red and itchy. They’re often in a line or cluster.

    Otto Pleska / Alamy Stock Photo

    Some people have a reaction to the bites. They can be very itchy and there may be painful swelling.

    How you can treat bedbug bites

    Bedbug bites usually clear up on their own in a week or so.

    Things you can do include:

    • putting something cool, like a clean, damp cloth, on the affected area to help with the itching and any swelling
    • keeping the affected area clean
    • not scratching the bites to avoid getting an infection

    You can ask a pharmacist about:

    • using a mild steroid cream like hydrocortisone cream to ease bedbug bites (children under 10 and pregnant women should get advice from a doctor before using hydrocortisone cream)
    • antihistamines – these may help if the bites are very itchy and you’re unable to sleep

    Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

    • the bites are still very painful, swollen or itchy after trying treatments from a pharmacist
    • the redness around the bites is spreading

    You may have an infection and need treatment with antibiotics.

    Coronavirus update: how to contact a GP

    It’s still important to get help from a GP if you need it. To contact your GP surgery:

    • visit their website
    • use the NHS App
    • call them

    How to get rid of bedbugs

    contact your local council or pest control service – it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get rid of bedbugs yourself because they can be resistant to some insecticides

    wash affected bedding and clothing – use a hot wash (60C) or tumble dry on a hot setting for at least 30 minutes

    put affected clothing and bedding in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer (-16C) for 4 days (alternative to hot washing)

    clean and vacuum regularly – bedbugs are found in both clean and dirty places, but regular cleaning will help you spot them early

    do not keep clutter around your bed

    do not bring secondhand furniture indoors without carefully checking it first

    do not take luggage or clothing indoors without checking it carefully if you have come from somewhere where you know there were bedbugs

    Page last reviewed: 21 January 2019
    Next review due: 21 January 2022

    How do Bed Bugs Spread and How to Prevent it

    People often wonder where bed bugs live, how they spread and the ways to prevent this. So, in this guide, we will mainly study how bed bugs spread from place to place and the important steps one can take to prevent this from happening.

    Where are they commonly found?

    Bed bugs are found throughout the world. The most common type of bed bug, the Cimex Lectularius, lives in cooler regions, and one can find it in many parts of North America, Europe as well as some parts of Asia. Similarly, the tropical bed bug (the Cimex Hemipterus) is found in tropical or warmer regions like Africa, Asia, South America and certain parts of North America.

    How do bed bugs spread?

    The answer to this question is very simple: bed bugs simply hitchhike their way into our homes through our luggage, on buses, trains and even airplanes. In most of the infestations, homeowners have either traveled to or stayed in infested motels or rental properties. Bed bugs also spread through discarded infested furniture, mattresses, shoes, books and other items that are innocently picked up by people.

    The worst part is that bed bugs are difficult to spot. They hide in cracks and crevices in furniture, wall sockets and electrical outlets etc. The larvae and eggs of bed bugs measure less than 1/25” making it difficult to get rid of them easily.

    How to prevent bed bugs from spreading?

    People dealing with a bed bug infestation must feel a moral obligation in preventing bed bugs from spreading. It is often embarrassing to admit to an infestation in the first place, since most people feel that it is a sign of unhygienic conditions. While this is true to some extent; it is important to note that no matter how clean and spotless a home or a hotel is, bed bugs can still reside in it. And once they come into our homes, it is difficult to get rid of them.

    However, there are ways of preventing the spreading of bed bugs.

    • When travelling, carry few trash/ plastic bags to store items in. Seal your shoes, clothing and other necessities in these bags to protect them from bed bugs.
    • Never place your luggage near furniture, walls and beds in motels and hotels as these are the areas that are frequented by the bugs. The best place to store your luggage and shoes in motels is the bathroom or your car, as bed bugs normally prefer inhabiting areas closer to the sleeping hosts.
    • If you see signs of bed bug activity on your hotel beds (such as rust colored fecal stains, discarded exoskeletons and other bed bug debris) do notify the hotel management staff. They might already be aware of the problem and even using an integrated pest management system. Most hotels will also offer to give you another room or it is best to change the hotel if possible.
    • If you have bed bugs in your home, inform potential guests beforehand so as to prevent bed bugs from spreading to their homes.

    What to do if you see bed bug signs where you are staying?

    • The best thing to do is notify the owner or manager. Do not spray any pesticide as other people/guests (or house pets) could be allergic to these. Moreover, spraying ineffective pesticides can also be detrimental to the efforts of bed bug control programs that are already in place.
    • Seal all your items in trash bags or plastic bags and if possible, place your luggage in these bags. Store the luggage away from the infested room, preferably in the car or in the bathroom.
    • Inspect yourself and your clothes that you are wearing currently to see if bed bugs have crawled on them. Do not apply any insecticide on your person; rather brush or dust the clothing.
    • Once you are home, brush your clothes again. Open and unpack your luggage outdoors to contain the infestation.
    • Launder all clothing in hot water and on the highest heat setting to kill bed bugs, eggs and larvae. Keep all clothing sealed until it is ready to be washed. Do not leave infested items near beds, on the floor or near clean clothes.
    • Place the luggage (backpacks and duffel bags) in dryers for 30 minutes.
    • Never leave infested items that you wish to discard near trash cans as unsuspecting people might pick them up leading to the spread of bed bugs.

    Call professional bed bug exterminators rather than dealing with large infestation on your own. This is the most important step for preventing the spread of bed bugs.

    Bed Bugs FAQs

    What are bed bugs?

    Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are small, flat, parasitic insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. Bed bugs are reddish-brown in color, wingless, range from 1mm to 7mm (roughly the size of Lincoln’s head on a penny), and can live several months without a blood meal.

    Where are bed bugs found?

    Bed bugs are found across the globe from North and South America, to Africa, Asia and Europe. Although the presence of bed bugs has traditionally been seen as a problem in developing countries, it has recently been spreading rapidly in parts of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other parts of Europe. Bed bugs have been found in five-star hotels and resorts and their presence is not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions where they are found.

    Bed bug infestations usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep. These areas include apartments, shelters, rooming houses, hotels, cruise ships, buses, trains, and dorm rooms. They hide during the day in places such as seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, inside cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, or any other clutter or objects around a bed. Bed bugs have been shown to be able to travel over 100 feet in a night but tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep.

    Do bed bugs spread disease?

    Bed bugs are not known to spread disease. Bed bugs can be an annoyance because their presence may cause itching and loss of sleep. Sometimes the itching can lead to excessive scratching that can sometimes increase the chance of a secondary skin infection.

    What health risks do bed bugs pose?

    A bed bug bite affects each person differently. Bite responses can range from an absence of any physical signs of the bite, to a small bite mark, to a serious allergic reaction. Bed bugs are not considered to be dangerous; however, an allergic reaction to several bites may need medical attention.

    What are the signs and symptoms of a bed bug infestation?

    One of the easiest ways to identify a bed bug infestation is by the tell-tale bite marks on the face, neck, arms, hands, or any other body parts while sleeping. However, these bite marks may take as long as 14 days to develop in some people so it is important to look for other clues when determining if bed bugs have infested an area. These signs include:

    • the bed bugs’ exoskeletons after molting,
    • bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets,
    • rusty–colored blood spots due to their blood-filled fecal material that they excrete on the mattress or nearby furniture, and
    • a sweet musty odor.

    How do I know if I’ve been bitten by a bed bug?

    It is hard to tell if you’ve been bitten by a bed bug unless you find bed bugs or signs of infestation. When bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from realizing they are being bitten. Most people do not realize they have been bitten until bite marks appear anywhere from one to several days after the initial bite. The bite marks are similar to that of a mosquito or a flea — a slightly swollen and red area that may itch and be irritating. The bite marks may be random or appear in a straight line. Other symptoms of bed bug bites include insomnia, anxiety, and skin problems that arise from profuse scratching of the bites.

    Because bed bug bites affect everyone differently, some people may have no reaction and will not develop bite marks or any other visible signs of being bitten. Other people may be allergic to the bed bugs and can react adversely to the bites. These allergic symptoms can include enlarged bite marks, painful swellings at the bite site, and, on rare occasions, anaphylaxis.

    How did I get bed bugs?

    Bed bugs are experts at hiding. Their slim flat bodies allow them to fit into the smallest of spaces and stay there for long periods of time, even without a blood meal. Bed bugs are usually transported from place to place as people travel. The bed bugs travel in the seams and folds of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothes, bedding, furniture, and anywhere else where they can hide. Most people do not realize they are transporting stow-away bed bugs as they travel from location to location, infecting areas as they travel.

    Who is at risk for getting bed bugs?

    Everyone is at risk for getting bed bugs when visiting an infected area. However, anyone who travels frequently and shares living and sleeping quarters where other people have previously slept has a higher risk of being bitten and or spreading a bed bug infestation.

    How are bed bugs treated and prevented?

    Bed bug bites usually do not pose a serious medical threat. The best way to treat a bite is to avoid scratching the area and apply antiseptic creams or lotions and take an antihistamine. Bed bug infestations are commonly treated by insecticide spraying. If you suspect that you have an infestation, contact your landlord or professional pest control company that is experienced with treating bed bugs. The best way to prevent bed bugs is regular inspection for the signs of an infestation.

    This information is not meant to be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for consultation with a health care provider. If you have any questions about the parasites described above or think that you may have a parasitic infection, consult a health care provider.

    How do Bed Bugs Spread? Are they Contagious? How Fast/Easily from Person, Room or House?

    A couple of factors influence the spread of bed bugs from one place to another. Some individuals wonder of these insects are contagious. Here is an insight into how fast or easy they disperse and ways to curb it.

    Are Bed Bugs Contagious? How do they spread from person to person?

    Bed bugs are a big source of discomfort and embarrassment when you have them infesting your house or crawling on your clothing.

    These tiny reddish or brown critters have been known to be the biggest infestations of households since centuries ago and comically have chosen where your best relaxation spots as they chill zones so as to get their blood meals.

    They happen to be nocturnal based on their retreat in the light of day and tendency to wage wars in the night. During the day, they are able to hide from plain eye sight by selecting small and dark places

    Bedbug infestation

    It is worthwhile mentioning that bed bugs do not predominantly prefer your body as a hiding spot and this makes them hardly transferrable from one person to another through physical contact.

    However, physical contact is relative as it is limited by time factor and the duration of contact between the source and recipient.

    Their distribution is therefore dependent on the availability of a vector that should be able to allow the transfer of bed bugs from one person to another.

    Such ‘vectors’ may include luggage, furniture and electronic gadgets.

    Thus far, for an organism to be contagious, there should be an element of life on the host in which it relies on for its livelihood.

    Notice that in the case of bed bugs, they do not live on the host’s body and therefore not contagious.

    Inclusive of a time element of contact between individuals, then it can be logically supposed that you contracted bed bugs from person A and hence deemed ‘contagious’.

    Indirect contact is the principal means through which bed bugs are transmissible from one person to another.

    So how do bed bugs spread from one person to another through an indirect means?

    To answer your question, you need to understand and identify the dominant hideouts of bed bugs in your household then pick out the items that may facilitate their transmission.

    In households, bed bugs are able to hide in the following areas as referenced from the University of Kentucky;

    1. Box springs,
    2. Baseboards,
    3. Dressers,
    4. Mattresses,
    5. Bedding,
    6. Luggage,
    7. Closets,
    8. Electronics,
    9. Rugs,
    10. Carpets,
    11. Tiles on floors,
    12. Curtains,
    13. Curtain boards,
    14. Behind wallpapers
    15. Picture frames,
    16. Switches on walls

    From your list above, you can be able to pick out the items that are mobile enough to allow transmission from person A to you.

    You have probably picked out luggage, clothing in closets, electronics, picture frames, bedding of pets, purses and books. This list will never be exhaustive however.

    Circumstances that may result in mobility of such items occur during travel when you do with your infested luggage, clothing or bus seat.

    The latter is normally left out among vectors of transfer and measures to mitigate such transfers are occasionally put into context.

    You might not have ferried many bed bugs, but a few of them could lead to a robust establishment in your residence that you may end up battling for the next decade.

    How fast do bed bugs spread from room to room?

    How do they spread from room to room?

    When it comes to transfer of bed bugs from one room to another either in a lodging or in your own house once someone has brought some home, they may travel along the ceiling to other rooms.

    Bed bugs have been observed to even fall from the ceiling to the bed making them one of the most cunny insects in the world. Fortunately for you, they do not fly!

    How fast?

    The speed at which bed bugs could mount an infestation depends on a number of factors that come into play either to promote or suppress its spread.

    Such factors include the availability of an optimal condition or environment for its growth and the number of bed bugs that have been brought home.

    Preliminary measures to preventing them perhaps set up before could also reduce the rate at which bed bugs spread.

    This means that you might have set up some traps or covered your bedding or previously eminent cracks and fixed your loosely fitted sockets and switch plates, moves that avail very limited spots in which bed bugs can hide.

    Therefore, this article will look at an ideal scenario where there is a provision for optimal conditions, physiologic reproductive capacity of bed bugs among other limiting influencers.

    One good thing is that bed bugs could take long before they can actually start becoming a nuisance. Consider a scenario with a single female bed bug with the ability to lay about 100 eggs at least.

    This would be perhaps in the first month and hence translated into infant bed bugs with an allowance of premature death, would make about 70 bed bugs.

    This number would further translate into about ¾ of them developing and growing into adults. Therefore, by the second month, you will have about 35 bed bug adults that can mate and make more bed bugs.

    It is almost assured that by the end of the third month, you will be hosting a colony of over 150 adults and more than a thousand developing nymphs.

    At this point, the infestation has gone way overboard and you may need the assistance of professionals to help you treat it.

    It therefore occurs as imperative that adequate measures be instituted in the second month before it may get any catastrophic.

    According to Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, this number, by the sixth month may have increased in magnitudes of about 8-10.

    How do bed bugs spread from house to house?

    Bed bugs are transmissible from one house to another. Well, this depends on how the houses are built and spaced from each other.

    Consider apartments in a block; such as observed in motels and lodgings or hostels in a university.

    If the house next door shares a wall with the other on both sides and is infested with bed bugs, chances are they are breeding in the houses next door too and spreading.

    There have been rampant cases of failing treatment of bed bugs infestation in apartments and hostels due to such loopholes.

    In this case, spraying a single room may still allow bed bugs to escape into the next houses then come back when there is a ceasefire or equal measures instigated by the neighbor and it becomes a vicious cycle.

    There are various ways in which bed bugs are able to travel from one house to another including:

    1. Travel through cracks and holes in walls
    2. Through ceilings
    3. Through spaces under the door
    4. Through pipes and other connecting systems
    5. Through sharing of furniture and other ‘vector’ materials.
    6. Visitations

    Therefore, house to house transfers are quite hard to monitor and at times neighbors find themselves blaming each other for their infestations ending up in a ‘chicken or egg’ scenario.

    How easily & long does it take for bed bugs to spread?

    How long for them to spread? What factors will determine the duration an ease. Spread of bed bugs once they have been brought to your house will depend on whether:

    1. If a female bed bug, has mated.
    2. If a female bed bug, has a male partner for them to mate
    3. There are optimal conditions including temperature relevant for its growth and development
    4. Its hide-outs are well placed for breeding and retreats.
    5. You will instigate measures to treat and impending infestation
    6. A vector material is available for its transmission.

    Hence, such factors are influential in determining the rate, extent and ease of spread of bed bugs.

    How to control the Spread

    It is important that you always have measures that will help you prevent spread of bed bugs.

    This is regardless of whether you have them and would not want them spreading into your neighbor’s house, spread from your travel accommodation to your own house or reducing the rate of spread among rooms in your own house. You can consider the following tips:

    Inspect your clothing before wearing them:

    Since bed bugs can hide in between your clothing in the closet, it is necessary to ensure that the clothing you choose for the day isn’t ferrying any bed bugs.

    This, you can do through physical inspection especially along the corners of sections sewn together and thoroughly doing so for dark colored clothes.

    Iron the clothes thereafter paying keen interest on the corners, sleeves, collars and edges of your shirt, blouse or trousers. Shoes, socks, scarfs and caps are also possible areas in which bed bugs can hide.

    If you have a dryer, you can heat your heat-stable clothing for about 30 minutes. If you do this a night before, you can insert the clothes in a plastic bag and seal it so that they are ready to wear on the following day.

    Once you are dressed, leave without having to sit on the bed or furniture otherwise they might just crawl back onto you. Do so for your purse, had bag or brief-case.

    Inspect your purse, wallet and bags

    Do this frequently so that you are able to take out everything that you have in the bag and clean it. Cleaning could involve washing it, allowing it to dry then heating it in a dryer for a few minutes.

    Flip through the pages of your books too as they could be in there. Other ways in which you can clean your bags, which happens to be less cumbersome includes vacuuming or brushing them.

    Above all, once you have a clean bag devoid of bed bugs, seal them in a plastic bag.

    Traveling anti-bug measures

    Choice of accommodation is important to ensure that you sleep in rooms that have been frequently treated. While bed bugs have been rampant for motels and lodgings, even quite lavish hotels are beginning to indicate that bed bugs do not choose their blood meals.

    Therefore, do not assume that since you are in a posh hotel, you are safe from bed bugs. Hang your bag on the hook instead of having them on the bed or on the floor.

    Ensure that you inspect the corners of your bed and the mattress on which you are going to use and make a call for changes if you notice any danger signs.

    Once you get home, leave the bags outside and only let them in when you have treated them if you are from an area with an infestation.

    More information on Bed Bugs

    Identification, Pictures, Signs & Facts

    Control Measures

    Getting rid and killing involves chemicals, DIY, natural remedies among other methods.

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