How Are Bed Bugs Brought Into Your Home

5 Tips to Avoid Bringing Home Bed Bugs From Your Hotel Stay

For the frequent hotel guest, the bed-bug scenario has taken on nightmare proportions: Tiny, roach-looking parasites lying in wait, biting you sleepless and welted and then, as if that weren’t enough, crawling en masse into your bag to infest your very home with some of the most notoriously difficult-to-eradicate pests you could find, were you to look.

The whole thing is a little surreal. Many of us only realized that bed bugs weren’t fictional in the last decade or so, when the incidence increased and these parasites made the news. Practically overnight, "Don’t let the bed bugs bite" went from harmless (if strange) goodnight rhyme to an actual warning.

So, it’s real, and it ain’t pretty. But you have tools at your disposal that can reduce your bed-bug risk. They’ll add some time to your travel process, but they may just end up saving you from the time-consuming, anxiety-triggering, financially draining horror of bringing them home with you from your trip.

The anti-bed-bug strategy starts there, at home, before the hotel is in view. It begins with the luggage you’ll be taking on your trip .

How to Prevent Bed Bugs from Getting into Your Home

You might recall going to bed as a child and hearing a parent call into your bedroom, “Goodnight. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite!” It’s a rhyme traced through many origin theories but one gross reality.

Aptly named, bed bugs are found in warm, semi-dark areas but most commonly in mattresses and bedding. Nearly invisible to the naked eye, these pests can thrive just about anywhere there’s a frequent turnover of occupants, mainly college dormitories, hotel rooms and even in a home.

While checking for bed bugs might not be part of your nightly routine today, in 2010 there was such a resurgence of bed bugs that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a guide dedicated to protecting your home from bed bug infestations .

While this article might make your skin crawl, it’s better than your bed crawling with bugs. We’ll go over how to identify, remove and prevent bed bugs from infesting your home so you can sleep tight knowing nothing will bite.

How Do You Identify a Bed Bug?

Bed bugs can be tricky to identify. They’re small and sneaky, meaning it might make it hard to catch an infestation before it becomes an actual problem. If you do happen to get a good look at one, here’s what you should look for :

  • Size: 1/4 of an inch long (about the size of an apple seed)
  • Shape: Long, oval and flat
  • Color: Brown – reddish-brown
  • Other features: Antenna and four legs

All the above characteristics are consistent throughout most bed bugs but note that younger bed bugs or bed bug eggs, can have a smaller size and a translucent, milky-white color.

If you’re unable to get a good look at what you think might be a bed bug, you can also identify a bed bug by the trace it leaves behind. If you think your home may be host to uninvited guests, thoroughly clean your home and change your bedding while looking for signs of:

  • Rusty or reddish stains on bed sheets or mattresses (caused by bed bugs being crushed)
  • Dark spots (commonly bed bug feces)
  • Bed bug bites on a person or pet

Although a bite might not be the best way to identify an infestation (they’re often confused for mosquito bites or rashes) know that bed bug bites can raise welts and rashes in humans, as well as cause an intense itching sensation; however, their bite does not carry infection or disease.

What Are Bed Bugs Attracted to?

Now that you know how to identify a bed bug, learning its habits, attractions and ideal breeding conditions can help you stop an infestation from spreading in your home. When it really comes down to it, bed bugs are drawn to:

  • Frequent foot traffic
  • Access to warmth
  • Carbon dioxide

It might sound gross but where there are people, there’s blood, and where there’s blood, there could be a bed bug. That’s why areas like dormitories, hotels and homes are a prime location for bed bugs since so many people go in and out.

However, they’re called “bed” bugs are a reason – their favorite hiding spots are bed frames, mattresses, box springs and beddings, combining their need of warmth, carbon dioxide and access to blood (people).

Although they’re commonly found in the bedroom, they can wedge their way into any small hiding spot in your home, so if you think you might have a bed bug infestation, don’t stop at the bed. Check these other common areas:

  • Furniture with cushions (chairs, couches, ottomans)
  • Curtains
  • Drawers
  • Electrical outlets and appliances
  • Wallpaper
  • Ceiling or floor cracks

Bed bugs can live anywhere their host can live, so this is by no means a comprehensive list. They are known to bite both humans and pets and are mostly active at night. They can also live between six months to a year, so don’t wait to act if you see signs of an early infestation.

What Causes You to Get Bed Bugs?

Some sources might claim that a messy or dirty home can cause you to get bed bugs when in reality, even the cleanest home can collect a campground of bugs. The real problem comes from previously infested furniture or people .

For example, you might have heard of hotel guests who insist on switching rooms because they found bed bugs or evidence of one. This is most likely because they know bed begs can attach themselves to clothing or luggage and travel back home with you, becoming a souvenir you don’t recall buying from your last vacation.

Unfortunately for bargain shoppers or antique collectors, they can also be found in secondhand furniture. Not to mention, people can carry bed bugs in their clothing and shoes, so there’s really no limit to how bed bugs could enter your home.

So, as you can see, the real cause of bed bugs can’t be blamed on a messy home; the real cause of bed bugs is infested furniture, bedding, luggage, boxes, clothing – really, anything that provides a source of warmth and access to people.

Obviously, while you can avoid staying in hotel rooms and buying secondhand furniture that could possibly be infested with bed bugs, you really can’t avoid people (or at least, we hope you won’t after reading this article!) The most important thing is to know how to prevent and get rid of bed bugs. We’ll talk about that next.

How Do You Prevent Bed Bugs from Getting into Your Home?

Since the number one cause of bed bug infestations in your home is previously infected furniture and people, here are a few precautions you can take to prevent bed bugs from getting into your home.

Inspect Secondhand Furniture Before Buying

Buying secondhand furniture is a great way to save money when you’re looking to furnish your home on the cheap , but it can also pose a risk of bed bugs if not examined closely.

If you go thrift shopping on the regular, make it a habit of doing a quick inspection of the furniture you’re thinking of purchasing. For furniture, check along the seams of the upholstery for any sign of bed bugs or bed bug residue. As a rule of thumb, never purchase a secondhand mattress.

Even if it looks clean enough to bring home after purchase, give the furniture a good cleaning before placing it in your home. Store it in your garage or shed, vacuuming any furniture with fabric and upholstery and thoroughly cleaning with hot, soapy water if otherwise, careful to check any crevasses like drawers or storage places.

Some sources might claim that a messy or dirty home can cause you to get bed bugs when in reality, even the cleanest home can collect a campground of bugs. The real problem comes from previously infested furniture or people .

Regularly Inspect Your Bedding for Signs of Bed Bugs

This doesn’t have to be a task you do on a nightly basis, rather, whenever you wash your bedding take this time to inspect the condition of your bed for signs of bed bugs or bed bug residue.

If you see signs of bed bugs, remove your bedding from your bed and place it in the washer on the highest heat and cycle setting your bedding will allow. The heat and water combined will kill any bed bugs that might be hiding in your bedding. For good measure, consider also washing any curtains, rugs, throw blankets and pillows that might have also been exposed in your bedroom.

As for your mattress and box spring, take them outside and using a scrub brush get into the seams and other affected areas of the mattress, brushing any bugs or eggs out. Then, take a vacuum and thoroughly clean the entire surface of both the mattress and box spring. After you’ve vacuumed your mattress, vacuum your bedroom, emptying the contents of the vacuum into a plastic bag and placing it in a garbage can outdoors.

Finally, enclose your mattress and box springs in a tight-fitting plastic covering, leaving both outside overnight. The plastic will keep any air from entering the mattress, suffocating any remaining bed bugs or eggs.

At the end of the day, you might feel more comfortable throwing away your affected mattress and box spring. If you’re worried about the chance of returning bed bugs, it’s worth the money to buy a new mattress set.

When Traveling, Always Check the Room for Bed Bugs

When traveling, check your hotel room for bed bugs before you unpack, focusing on the bedding, upholstered furniture and curtains. If you see signs of bed bugs, ask the front desk or host for another room, notifying them that you found bed bugs in your current room.

Don’t bring your luggage into the room until the coast is clear of bed bugs. Bed bugs can attach themselves to your luggage and can live up to a week, making it possible for them to find their way back into your home.

If you think your clothing may be infected, separate the infected clothes from the rest of your luggage in a sealed plastic bag. When you return home, place the infected clothes in your washing machine on the highest heat setting your clothing will allow.

Inspect your luggage outside before bringing it back into your home. Go the extra mile by vacuuming and hand washing the bag with hot, soapy water. Leave outside to dry and inspect one final time before bringing it in.

What Keeps Bed Bugs Away?

According to some sources , there are a few scents that are rumored to repel bed bugs. All-natural products, like essential oils , are said to have an effect on bed bugs, but may not kill them off completely. If you’re dealing with a heavy infestation, it’s a better idea to call an exterminator with professional heat and chemicals.

However, if you’re just looking for a preventative method that might repel bed bugs from your home, here are a few essential oils that may do the trick:

  • Tea tree oil
  • Lavender
  • Thyme
  • Lemongrass
  • Peppermint

Use ten drops of any of the previously listed essential oils, dilute with water and place in a spray bottle, spraying around the affected areas of your home like your bed sheets, curtains, luggage and other areas where you might suspect bed bugs.

If you’re still noticing signs of bed bugs in your home, contact your local exterminator to schedule a cleaning of your home. Based on the level of infestation in your home, you might not be able to stay in your home during or after the treatment, so make sure you make arrangements to stay at a friend or family’s home during this time.

While you might not ever be able to completely prevent bed bugs from getting into your home, knowing how to properly identify, remove or call a professional to remove the bed bugs will help keep your household safe from infestations.

Have you experienced bed bugs in your home? How did you handle the infestation? Share your story in the comments below.

What Causes Bed Bugs? 6 Ways They Find A Way Into Your Home

The first step in knowing how to get rid of bed bugs is to figure out what causes bed bugs. By knowing the ways in which bed bugs come into your home and lay eggs, you can take steps to prevent a bed bug infestation in your home.

Contrary to popular belief bed bugs are not caused by filth or poverty. Bed bugs do not care that you’re rich or poor, clean or messy. They are concerned with blood of humans and animals and nothing more. Every home is susceptible to bed bugs so your best bet is knowing what caused them so you can prevent and treat them.

Pets

Bed bugs can be brought into your home by household pets like cats and dogs. They are warm and have blood, making them the ideal ride into your home. Since bed bugs are not necessarily ‘inside’ creatures, they often hop on animals to feed and simply end up in a new location as the animal moves around.

Pets are just one cause of bed bugs, but regular bathing can minimize a bed bug infestation.

Cramped Living

Cramped living quarters such as hotels, college dorms, hostels and apartment buildings are a big cause of bed bug infestations. While it is not the fact that much of the world lives in apartments or other forms of cramped living, living close to your neighbors provides a good way for bed bugs to spread.

For example, living in an apartment building or dormitory where one unit has bed bugs can quickly cause others to have bed bugs as well. They travel on the carpet from one unit to the next, in the air ducts and power outlets. When one person gets bed bugs in cramped living quarters—particularly without alerting their neighbors—they cause others to get bed bugs.

If you notice bed bugs in your apartment, quickly alert your neighbors so they may prevent or treat their own infestation.

Traveling

International travel has certainly increased our awareness of bed bugs because placed like hotels that have a high turnover rate of human activity. Even a five star hotel can cause bed bugs in your home if that is where the bed bugs latched onto your luggage or clothing.

Places like hotels and airplanes where there thousands of people sharing the same small spaces are a breeding ground for bed bugs. Any place where people are sitting or sleeping for long periods of time is a place that can cause bed bugs to hitch a ride home with you.

Used Furniture

City dwellers often rely on city services to dispose of used furniture, generally by placing old furniture on the curb for a pick-up service. Many times the furniture is picked up to be used by someone else before the pick-up service arrives, and this is one of the causes of bed bugs in your home.

Even if the previous owner had no signs of bed bugs in their home, they can be transferred to the used furniture just from a few minutes on the street.

If you love free furniture, be sure to clean it thoroughly or risk a bed bug infestation.

It isn’t just used furniture found on the street. Used furniture found at flea markets, outdoor sales or second hand furniture shops can also bring bed bugs into your home.

Cracks & Crevices

If you have noticeable cracks or crevices on the walls, floors or ceilings in your home, this is a simple way for bed bugs to crawl into your home. Since bed bugs are quite small they can enter through even the smallest crack in a wall.

They seek warmth and those cracks and crevices provide them an easy way into the warmth.

Your best bet is to seal these cracks as soon as you spot them. Don’t wait until you need to do one big job to buy caulk. The sooner you seal those cracks the greater your chances of avoiding a bed bug infestation.

Clothes

The clothes on your body can easily answer the question,what causes bed bugs?Anywhere you go that has bed bugs—knowingly or unknowingly—is a place where you can bring them home with you.

If you suspect that you may have come in contact with bed bugs immediately run your clothes through a wash cycle on hot water. This will kill the bed bugs before they can lay eggs and infest your home.

Keep in mind that these are just a few of the causes of bed bugs. Regularly check your clothes, pets and furniture for signs of bed bugs. Seal up the cracks and crevices you notice and keep the bed bugs at bay.

Bedbugs

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Bedbugs are small, oval, brownish insects that live on the blood of animals or humans. Adult bedbugs have flat bodies about the size of an apple seed. After feeding, however, their bodies swell and are a reddish color.

Bedbugs do not fly, but they can move quickly over floors, walls, and ceilings. Female bedbugs may lay hundreds of eggs, each of which is about the size of a speck of dust, over a lifetime.

Immature bedbugs, called nymphs, shed their skins five times before reaching maturity and require a meal of blood before each shedding. Under favorable conditions the bugs can develop fully in as little as a month and produce three or more generations per year.

Although they are a nuisance, they are not thought to transmit diseases.

Where Bed Bugs Hide

Bedbugs may enter your home undetected through luggage, clothing, used beds and couches, and other items. Their flattened bodies make it possible for them to fit into tiny spaces, about the width of a credit card. Bedbugs do not have nests like ants or bees, but tend to live in groups in hiding places. Their initial hiding places are typically in mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards where they have easy access to people to bite in the night.

Over time, however, they may scatter through the bedroom, moving into any crevice or protected location. They may also spread to nearby rooms or apartments.

Because bedbugs live solely on blood, having them in your home is not a sign of dirtiness. You are as likely to find them in immaculate homes and hotel rooms as in filthy ones.

When Bedbugs Bite

Bedbugs are active mainly at night and usually bite people while they are sleeping. They feed by piercing the skin and withdrawing blood through an elongated beak. The bugs feed from three to 10 minutes to become engorged and then crawl away unnoticed.

Most bedbug bites are painless at first, but later turn into itchy welts. Unlike flea bites that are mainly around the ankles, bedbug bites are on any area of skin exposed while sleeping. Also, the bites do not have a red spot in the center like flea bites do.

People who don’t realize they have a bedbug infestation may attribute the itching and welts to other causes, such as mosquitoes. To confirm bedbug bites, you must find and identify the bugs themselves.

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Signs of Infestation

If you wake up with itchy areas you didn’t have when you went to sleep, you may have bedbugs, particularly if you got a used bed or other used furniture around the time the bites started. Other signs that you have bedbugs include:

  • Blood stains on your sheets or pillowcases
  • Dark or rusty spots of bedbug excrement on sheets and mattresses, bed clothes, and walls
  • Bedbug fecal spots, egg shells, or shed skins in areas where bedbugs hide
  • An offensive, musty odor from the bugs’ scent glands

If you suspect an infestation, remove all bedding and check it carefully for signs of the bugs or their excrement. Remove the dust cover over the bottom of the box springs and examine the seams in the wood framing. Peel back the fabric where it is stapled to the wood frame.

Also, check the area around the bed, including inside books, telephones or radios, the edge of the carpet, and even in electrical outlets. Check your closet, because bedbugs can attach to clothing. If you are uncertain about signs of bedbugs, call an exterminator, who will know what to look for.

If you find signs of infestation, begin steps to get rid of the bugs and prevent their return.

Bedbug Treatments

Getting rid of bedbugs begins with cleaning up the places where bedbugs live. This should include the following:

  • Clean bedding, linens, curtains, and clothing in hot water and dry them on the highest dryer setting. Place stuffed animals, shoes, and other items that can’t be washed in the dryer and run on high for 30 minutes.
  • Use a stiff brush to scrub mattress seams to remove bedbugs and their eggs before vacuuming.
  • Vacuum your bed and surrounding area frequently. After vacuuming, immediately place the vacuum cleaner bag in a plastic bag and place in garbage can outdoors.
  • Encase mattress and box springs with a tightly woven, zippered cover to keep bedbugs from entering or escaping. Bedbugs may live up to a year without feeding, so keep the cover on your mattress for at least a year to make sure all bugs in the mattress are dead.
  • Repair cracks in plaster and glue down peeling wallpaper to get rid of places bedbugs can hide.
  • Get rid of clutter around the bed.

If your mattress is infested, you may want to get rid of it and get a new one, but take care to rid the rest of your home of bedbugs or they will infest your new mattress.

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Bedbug Extermination

While cleaning up infested areas will be helpful in controlling bedbugs, getting rid of them usually requires chemical treatments. Because treating your bed and bedroom with insecticides can be harmful, it is important to use products that can be used safely in bedrooms. Do not treat mattresses and bedding unless the label specifically says you can use them on bedding.

Generally it is safest and most effective to hire an experienced pest control professional for bedbug extermination.

Sources

University of Kentucky College of Agriculture: "Bed Bugs."

Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet: "Bed Bugs."

The New York City Department of Heath and Mental Hygiene: "Stop Bed Bugs Safely."

University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension Lancaster County: "Managing Bed Bugs."

What Causes Bed Bugs

Bed bugs often appear even in new apartments that are equipped with the all modern conveniences. Certainly, the owners of clean houses are puzzled about why parasites have inhabited their apartment. Moreover, how have they penetrated into their dwelling? There are several causes of bed bugs appearance in the apartment.

The thing is that it does not matter how carefully cleanliness is maintained. The main and the only target of bed bugs is a human being (or sometimes small-sized animals). Thus, they can settle in the places where people spend nighttime.

To avoid bed bugs penetration into the house you should always stay alert and monitor the subtle changes that happen in the apartment. Also, from time to time it is useful to take prophylactic measures and apply insecticide on the perimeter of the possible entry points of insects. It is also recommended to communicate with your neighbors and pay attention to the condition of their apartments.

Additionally, bed bugs can come to your house by chance. In this case, it depends on the owner’s wish to mind all the possible ways of their penetration. Therefore, it is important to understand what causes bed bugs appearance to be able to protect yourself from these parasites when needed.

What Causes Bed Bugs in an Apartment?

It is difficult to answer the question about where bed bugs come from. It depends on the flat location, the presence of parasites at neighbors’ apartments, or the owners’ recent trips by train or someone else’s car. There are many ways of how these insects penetrate into the house; thus, bed bugs causes may be different.

  • In most cases, bugs come from neighboring premises. It is especially typical for old buildings. Insects can crawl through a damaged wall, cracks or the outer wall of the house. Also, bed bugs often come through ventilation shafts. They can survive without food for quite a long time. Thus, long travels are not a problem for them. Insects’ body shape and small size facilitate their penetration into small holes and cracks. If a house is located in the countryside, bed bugs can often come to people from small-sized farm animals. In fact, the thick skin of a rabbit or a goat is not so attractive to these blood-sucking insects as the human one.
  • You can “catch” a bed bug and transfer it to your apartment having spent a night outside your house. Hotels, friends’ apartments, as well as trains or railway stations are places where you can get these parasites. Bed bugs are small in size. Thus, even if an insect does not have time to hide when a person gets up and dresses, the bug’s presence will be unnoticeable on the cloth.
  • One more cause of bed bugs penetration is buying appliances. Bed bugs like to hide in the places that are protected from bright daylight and have a source of heat. Parasites often get into working system units. If such a unit is moved to be repaired or to a new apartment, bed bugs will quickly spread through a new place.
  • Another way of getting bed bugs is bringing them to the house on clothes. Parasites cannot bite through clothing, but they can hide in it. It is not always possible to notice the bloodsucker due to its tiny size. Therefore, it is very likely to bring one or more insect home, having visited an apartment inhabited by them. Also, another cause of bed bugs penetration can be a purchase of clothes infested by these parasites.
  • Furniture is one of the most common bed bugs causes. New pieces of furniture brought from the store are rarely infested, as parasites simply have nothing to eat there. However, exceptions may occur. In most cases, bed bugs can dwell in the furniture that was previously used. Parasites spread through its surface and cracks. It is necessary to check the furniture very carefully before buying it, especially the inside part of it.
  • Bed bugs can live on bats, birds, hamsters and rats if they have not very long and thick hair. These insects do not drink blood of cats or dogs because their skin is too thick for these parasites. For this reason, they prefer cattle.
  • Guests may bring bed bugs to the apartment too. People who live in the infested premises may bring these insects on their clothes. It happens that after flat renovation owners may reveal bugs “left” by workers. These parasites are very fond of the large crowds of people, so they often live in construction trailers and hostels. If hired workers live in such conditions, it is very likely that they will bring bed bugs to their workplace.

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