How Bed Bugs Get In

Bedbugs

In this Article

In this Article

In this Article

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.

Continued

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.

Continued

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."

How to Get Rid of Bedbugs

Bedbugs measure just 5 millimeters across—smaller than a pencil eraser. These bugs are smart, tough, and they reproduce quickly. Bedbugs know where to hide to avoid detection, they can live for months between meals, and a healthy female can lay 500 eggs in her lifetime.

No surprise that these tiny bloodsuckers can wreak a lot of havoc in your home. If they get into bed with you, they can leave red, itchy welts all over your body.

Fortunately, you can get rid of bedbugs. Be patient as removing bedbugs often takes some time and effort. You may have to try a few different chemical and non-chemical approaches, especially if you have a large infestation.

Certain factors can make bedbugs harder to remove. You may have a tougher time ridding your home of them if you have a lot of clutter, or you travel often and bring new bedbugs home in your luggage.

If you can’t rid your home on your own, you may have to call in a professional exterminator. Read on for a step-by-step guide on getting rid of bedbugs.

If you’ve got bedbugs, you want to find them early before they start to reproduce. It’s much easier—and cheaper—to treat a small infestation than a big one. Yet smaller infestations can be harder to detect.

Search for bedbugs yourself, or hire a professional to do an inspection. Some inspectors use specially trained dogs to hunt down bedbugs by scent.

Bedbugs’ small, narrow bodies enable them to squeeze into tiny spots—like the seams of a mattress or couch, and the folds of curtains.

Also look for them in places like these:

  • near the tags of the mattress and box spring
  • in cracks in the bed frame and headboard
  • in baseboards
  • between couch cushions
  • in furniture joints
  • inside electrical outlets
  • under loose wallpaper
  • underneath paintings and posters on the walls
  • in the seam where the wallpaper and ceiling meet

Use a flashlight and magnifying glass to go over all of these areas.

You can spot bedbugs by these signs:

  • live bedbugs, which are reddish and about ¼-inch long
  • dark spots about the size of a period—these are bedbug droppings
  • reddish stains on your mattress from bugs that have been crushed
  • small, pale yellow eggs, egg shells, and yellowish skins that young bedbugs shed

Once you find a bedbug, put it in a sealed jar along with 1 teaspoon of rubbing alcohol. Other types of bugs can look a lot like bedbugs. If you’re not sure what type of bug you’ve found, bring it to an exterminator or entomologist to identify.

Once you know you have bedbugs, you need to keep them contained so you can get rid of them. A quick and easy way to trap bedbugs is with your vacuum. Run the vacuum over any possible hiding places.

This includes your:

Seal up the vacuumed contents into a plastic bag and throw it away. Then thoroughly clean out the vacuum.

Seal up all your linens and affected clothes in plastic bags until you can wash them. Then put them on the highest possible temperature setting in the washer and dryer. If an item can’t be washed, put it in the dryer for 30 minutes at the highest heat setting.

Anything that can’t be treated in the washer and dryer, place in a plastic bag. Leave it there for a few months, if possible, to make sure all the bugs die. If you can’t clean furniture, throw it away. Tear it up first and spray paint the words “bedbugs” on it so no one else tries to take it home.

Before you start treating your home, do a little prep work to maximize your odds of success. Make sure all your linens, carpets, drapes, clothing, and other hiding places have been cleaned or thrown out (see Step 2).

Next, get rid of bedbug hiding places. Pick up books, magazines, clothes, and anything else that’s lying on your floor and under your bed. Throw out whatever you can. Don’t move items from an infested room to a clean one—you could spread the bugs.

Seal up any open areas. Glue down loose wallpaper. Caulk cracks in furniture and around baseboards. Tape up open electrical outlets. Finally, move your bed at least 6 inches away from the wall so bedbugs can’t climb on.

Home cleaning methods

You can first try to remove bedbugs without chemicals. These bugs are pretty easy to kill with high heat, 115°F (46°C), or intense cold , 32°F(less than 0°C

Here are a few ways to treat bedbugs using these methods:

  • Wash bedding and clothes in hot water for 30 minutes. Then put them in a dryer on the highest heat setting for 30 minutes.
  • Use a steamer on mattresses, couches, and other places where bedbugs hide.
  • Pack up infested items in black bags and leave them outside on a hot day (95 degrees) or in a closed car. In cooler temperatures, it can take two to five months to kill sealed-up bugs.
  • Put bags containing bedbugs in the freezer at 0°F (-17°C). Use a thermometer to check the temperature. Leave them in there for at least four days.

Once you’ve cleaned all visible bedbugs, make the area inhospitable for their friends. Place bedbug-proof covers over your mattress and box spring. Zip these covers up all the way. Bugs that are trapped inside will die, and new bugs won’t be able to get in.

If these methods don’t wipe out all the bugs, you may need to try an insecticide.

Non-chemical and chemical treatments

Insecticides can help rid your home of bedbugs. Look for products that are EPA-registered, and specifically marked for “bedbugs.”

Here are a few types of insecticides you can try:

  • Pyrethrins and pyrethroidsare the most common chemicals used to kill bedbugs. Yet some bedbugs have become resistant to them.
  • Pyrroleslike chlorfenapyr kill bedbugs by disrupting their cells.
  • Neonicotinoidsare man-made versions of nicotine. They damage the bugs’ nervous system. This type of chemical works on bedbugs that have become resistant to other pesticides.
  • Dessicantsare substances that destroy the bugs’ protective outer coating. Without this coating, the bugs dry out and die. Two examples of dessicants are silica aerogel (Tri-Die and CimeXa) and diatomaceous earth. The advantage to dessicants is that bedbugs can’t become resistant to them, but they work slowly. These products can take a few months to kill off all the bugs.
  • Foggers or bug bombskill bedbugs, but they can’t get into cracks and crevices where these bugs hide. They can also be toxic to humans if you use them incorrectly. Read the label carefully. Leave the room before you set off a fogger.
  • Plant oil-based products likeEcoRaider and Bed Bug Patrol are less toxic than chemical insecticides, and they work well against bedbugs.

What Causes Bed Bugs in Your Home ?

If you wake up in the middle of the nigh scratching itchy arms and legs, you may have a bed bug infestation. These small, reddish-brown bloodsucking pests can cause a number of health issues if they are not eliminated quickly.

A single bug is no larger than an apple seed. This is why you may not be able to detect them till it is too late. They can remain hidden between cracks, crevices, box springs, the headboard, and any furniture that is near your bed.

Table of Contents

How Do Bed Bugs Get In Your Home?

These pests don’t materialize out of thin air and land on your bed. Bed bugs are notorious hitch hikers – they can get on you and you won’t even realize they are there till they multiply on your bed. Here are some common places where these bloodsuckers can come from:

  • Office buildings.
  • Daycare centers
  • Schools
  • Libraries
  • Nursing homes
  • Police station
  • The theatre
  • Bus depots (from seats)

In fact, bed bugs can also transfer from one person to the next so you aren’t safe even if you avoid the aforementioned locations.

1. Doesn’t Matter If You Are Clean

What causes bed bugs to come? Let’s get one thing straight – no matter how clean you are, you are still susceptible to an infestation from these pesky insects. Their main diet is human and animal blood and they can live almost any place that has a ready supply of either of these. So no matter how pristine your home is and even if you don’t have pets, you may have these bugs.

Even though bed bugs prefer to remain hidden, they venture out when they sense a suitable source of food nearby. These are quite caution though which is why they come out in the middle of the night. Plus, there is a reason why you don’t feel them biting you when you are asleep. When they bite, they inject a weak anesthetic into their host so that they can eat their fill without being noticed.

2. They Are Master Hitchhikers

As mentioned before, for bed bugs to get in your home, they have to hitch a ride on you or anything you are carrying. Normally, they don’t remain on a host after they have fed their fill but they may crawl onto them and ride to a new location.

Needless to say travelers are the ones who are the most susceptible to this. If you stay in a hotel that has a bed bug problem, you will probably take some home with you on your luggage, purse, backpack and coat.

3. They Prefer High-Activity Areas

Since bed bugs travel from one feeding ground to the next by hitching a ride on unsuspecting people, they are usually found in populated areas. This includes shelters, dorms, hotels, apartments, etc.

In other words, if you have a lot of guests coming over for dinner or a party, chances are at least one of them are hiding pesky uninvited guests so to speak. People who live in single family residences are at a lower risk.

4. They Love Clutter

Once bed bugs get in your home, they immediately start searching for hiding places. This can be anything from baseboards and wallpaper to your sheets, under switch plates and especially clutter. This spells bad news for hoarders – the more things you have lying around your home, the harder it will be for you to get rid of them.

Once they find a decent hidey hole, they spare no time multiplying and they do this quite fast. In fact, a single female can lay over hundreds of eggs at a time. With a ready food source and isolation, it can produce eggs as many times as it needs.

5. They Can Be Found In Second Hand Furniture

If you prefer to buy furniture second hand, chances are you will get more than you bargained for. If it comes from a home that is infested with bed bugs, it will definitely have a few that can infest your home as well. This also includes rented furniture which is not deep cleaned and inspected for pests after it is returned.

Unfortunately, isolating an infested piece of furniture may not resolve the problem. Bed bugs can survive for months without feeding after all.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes bed bugs and how to get rid of them?

To summarize, bed bugs are caused by clutter, infested furniture and travel. Here are some ways that you can prevent an infestation and/or get rid of them:

  • Be diligent when you are traveling. When you are staying at a hotel, place your bag on your suitcase, not on the floor or the bed. Plus, keep it away from the furniture and the walls.
  • Before purchasing new or used furniture, examine it for bed bugs by lifting the seams, cushions and tufts.
  • Vacuum your home frequently
  • Cover all power outlets. Bed bugs hide in the holes during extermination and come out when the coast is clear.
  • Store clothing in vacuum sealed bags while traveling. This will prevent these pests from hitching a ride on you all the way back to your home.

How do I know that my home has bed bugs?

  • You see small, red bumps on your skin that itch when you get up in the morning.
  • You see blood stains on the sheets.
  • You see black droppings on furniture, in crevices, in your bed and in cracks.
  • You notice a musty odor in your home
  • You see dark spots on the walls.
  • You see bed bug shells (white, husk-like specks) on your mattress.
  • You see small, white spots in the furniture.

I have a bed bug problem. How do I control it?

  • Get rid of clutter and clean up your home.
  • Move the bed well away from the furniture before treating it.
  • Wash infested sheets, pillows, blankets etc and dry it in a hot dryer for at least half an hour. This should kill the eggs as well. After that, consider using spring and box spring covers to prevent re-infestation.
  • Seal all openings such as cracks and crevices especially where the pipes and wires are located.
  • Remove all the drawers from a dresser to search for the bugs and pull it away from the wall to block escape routes.
  • To dislodge eggs, scrub infested areas with a stiff brush and then vacuum the room extensively. A vacuum hose attachment will be effective especially in cracks and small holes. Since bed bugs latch on tightly, use the nozzle of the vacuum to scrape them lose and then suck them up.

How do I use pesticide to eliminate bed bugs?

Only use pesticides if the infestation is too large to manage. Plus, make sure to use a product that is made specifically for eliminating it such as Temprid FX. Follow the directions that are mentioned on it carefully. Use only the amount that is prescribed and place it in a spray bottle.

Spray the pesticide in areas where bed bugs are usually found such as in corners, around thresholds, and window frames, under the furniture, the bed and furniture legs, the edge of carpets and baseboards, etc. Whatever you do, do not spray an entire carpet or floor and allow it to dry on areas that you do spray before removing dead bugs.

What health risks do bed bugs carry?

Bed bugs affect each person differently. Some people may not even see any red spots or signs of an infestation on their body while others may either get small, red and engorged marks on their body or a full-on allergic reaction which may require medical aid. The worst case scenario may be burning and an anaphylactic reaction. Some people may also suffer from insomnia if they know that their bed has bugs in it for fear of being bitten.

How do I prevent bed bugs from returning after cleaning them out?

Even if you evacuate your home, some bugs may return and feed off other pests such as rats and mice. In other words, make sure that you get rid of them as well as the bugs at the same time.

How do I prevent an infestation after returning home from a vacation?

  • When you get home from a vacation, take your luggage into the garage or any area that is not near your home and shake out everything in it.
  • Place all of the clothes in your luggage in a plastic bag and wash them separately in the washing machine even items that you never wore during your trip. Use hot water for this.
  • Vacuum your empty suitcase from the inside out thoroughly and dump the contents outside. Take extra precautions by rubbing the suitcases with rubbing alcohol. Apply it to a cotton ball and rub it around the crevices and cracks.
  • Items that should not be washed can still be treated. For example, you can leave the shoes you used in your travels out in the sun for a couple of days to drive out any bed bugs in it.

If you see a single bed bug, chances are there are more behind it hiding in your home. Take the threat seriously by taking the mentioned preventative/elimination measures and you will be free of the pesky critters in no time.

Bedbugs

What should you know about bedbugs?

Bedbugs (Cimex lectularius) are small, oval insects that feed by sucking blood from humans or other warm-blooded animals. The effect of bedbugs on human health and reports of bedbug infestations of certain hotels has received media attention in recent years.

How big are bedbugs?

Bedbugs do not fly. Adult bedbugs are 5-7 mm in length.

Where do bedbugs live?

Bedbugs are pests that can live anywhere in the home. They can live in cracks in furniture or in any type of textile, including upholstered furniture. Bedbug infestations are most common in beds, including the mattress, box springs, and bed frames. Bedbugs are most active at night. These pests may bite any exposed areas of skin while an individual is sleeping. Common locations for bedbug bites are the face, neck, hands, and arms.

Are bedbug bites painful?

A bedbug bite is painless and is generally not noticed. The bites may be mistaken for a rash of another cause. Small, flat, or raised bumps on the skin are the most common sign. Symptoms include redness, swelling, and itching.

How do you know if you have bedbugs?

Fecal stains or rust-colored dark spots, egg cases, and shed skins (exuviae) of bedbugs in crevices and cracks on or near beds are suggestive of infestations, but only observing the bugs themselves can confirm an active infestation. A professional pest-control company may be required to help identify and remove bedbugs from the home.

What home remedies and medications treat and get rid of bedbugs?

Home remedies for bedbug bites include measures to control itching, such as oatmeal baths or cool compresses. Typically, no treatment is required for bedbug bites. If itching is severe, steroid creams or oral antihistamines may be used for symptom relief.

Picture of Bedbug Bites

The first sign of bedbugs may be red, itchy bites on the skin, usually on the arms or shoulders. Bedbugs tend to leave straight rows of bites, unlike some other insects that leave bites here and there.

Bedbugs do not seem to spread disease to people. But itching from the bites can be so bad that some people will scratch enough to cause breaks in the skin that get infected easily.

What are bedbugs? What do bedbugs look like?

Bedbugs are small oval-shaped non-flying insects that belong to the insect familyCimicidae, which includes three species that bite people. Adult bedbugs reach 5 mm-7 mm in length, while nymphs (juveniles) are as small as 1.5 mm. Bedbugs have flat bodies and may sometimes be mistaken for ticks or small cockroaches. Bedbugs feed by sucking blood from humans or animals.Cimex lectulariusis the scientific name for bedbugs.

Adult bedbugs are reddish brown in color, appearing engorged and more reddish after feeding on a blood meal. Nymphs are light-colored and appear bright red after feeding. The wings of bedbugs are vestigial, so they cannot fly. However, they are able to crawl rapidly.

Temperatures between 70 F-80 F are most favorable for bedbugs, allowing them to develop into adults most rapidly and produce up to three generations per year.

Where are bedbugs found?

Bedbugs are found all over the world. Bedbug infestations were common in the U.S. before World War II and became rare after widespread use of the pesticide DDT for pest control began in the 1940s and 1950s. They remained prevalent in other areas of the world and, in recent years, have been increasingly observed again in the U.S. Increases in immigration and travel from the developing world as well as restrictions on the use of stronger insecticides may be factors that have led to the relatively recent increase in bedbug infestations. While bedbug infestations are often reported to be found when sanitation conditions are poor or when birds or mammals (particularly bats) are nesting on or near a home, bedbugs can also live and thrive in clean environments. Crowded living quarters also facilitate the spread of bedbug infestations.

Bedbugs can live in any area of the home and use tiny cracks in furniture as well as on textiles and upholstered furniture as hiding places. They tend to be most common in areas where people sleep and generally concentrate in beds, including mattresses or mattress covers, box springs, and bed frames. They do not infest the sleeping surfaces of beds as commonly as cracks and crevices associated with the bed frame and mattress, including mattress seams. Other sites where bedbugs often reside and potential infested items include curtains, edges of carpet, corners inside dressers and other furniture, cracks in wallpaper (particularly near the bed), and inside the spaces of wicker furniture.

Since bedbugs can live for months or even longer under favorable conditions without feeding, they can also be found in vacant homes.

SLIDESHOW

Are bedbugs found in hotels?

Bedbugs are found all over the world. Bedbug infestations were common in the U.S. before World War II and became rare after widespread use of the pesticide DDT for pest control began in the 1940s and 1950s. They remained prevalent in other areas of the world and, in recent years, have been increasingly observed again in the U.S. Increases in immigration and travel from the developing world as well as restrictions on the use of stronger insecticides may be factors that have led to the relatively recent increase in bedbug infestations. While bedbug infestations are often reported to be found when sanitation conditions are poor or when birds or mammals (particularly bats) are nesting on or near a home, bedbugs can also live and thrive in clean environments. Crowded living quarters also facilitate the spread of bedbug infestations.

Bedbugs can live in any area of the home and use tiny cracks in furniture as well as on textiles and upholstered furniture as hiding places. Bedbugs tend to be most common in areas where people;

  • sleep,
  • they usually concentrate in beds, including;
  • mattresses or mattress covers,
  • box springs and bed frames,
  • matttress seams and cracks,
  • curtains,
  • edges of carpet,
  • corners inside dressers and other furniture,
  • cracks in wallpaper (particularly near the bed),
  • recently used suitcases, bags, and other things that you have taken outside of your home, and
  • inside the spaces of wicker furniture.
  • They do not infest the sleeping surfaces of beds as commonly as cracks and crevices associated with the bed frame and mattress, including mattress seams. Other sites where bedbugs often reside and potential infested items

    Many news reports in recent years have focused on the discovery of bedbugs and their health effects (even in upscale five-star hotels), and a number of lawsuits have been filed by guests of fashionable hotels who awoke to find hundreds of bedbug bites covering their skin. Searching on travel-review web sites regularly reveals information and even photos confirming the presence of bedbugs in numerous hotels.

    Since bedbugs can arrive on the clothing or in the suitcases of guests from infested homes or other hotels harboring the pests, hotels can be an easy target for bedbug infestations.

    In addition to hotels, bedbug infestations have been found in;

    edbugs are found all over the world. Bedbug infestations were common in the U.S. before World War II and became rare after widespread use of the pesticide DDT for pest control began in the 1940s and 1950s. They remained prevalent in other areas of the world and, in recent years, have been increasingly observed again in the U.S. Increases in immigration and travel from the developing world as well as restrictions on the use of stronger insecticides may be factors that have led to the relatively recent increase in bedbug infestations. While bedbug infestations are often reported to be found when sanitation conditions are poor or when birds or mammals (particularly bats) are nesting on or near a home, bedbugs can also live and thrive in clean environments. Crowded living quarters also facilitate the spread of bedbug infestations.

    Bedbugs can live in any area of the home and use tiny cracks in furniture as well as on textiles and upholstered furniture as hiding places. They tend to be most common in areas where people sleep and generally concentrate in beds, including mattresses or mattress covers, box springs, and bed frames. They do not infest the sleeping surfaces of beds as commonly as cracks and crevices associated with the bed frame and mattress, including mattress seams. Other sites where bedbugs often reside and potential infested items include curtains, edges of carpet, corners inside dressers and other furniture, cracks in wallpaper (particularly near the bed), and inside the spaces of wicker furniture.

    Since bedbugs can live for months or even longer under favorable conditions without feeding, they can also be found in vacant homes.

    How do bedbugs spread?

    Bedbugs live in any articles of furniture, clothing, or bedding, so they or their eggs may be present in used furniture or clothing. They spread by crawling and may contaminate multiple rooms in a home or even multiple dwellings in apartment buildings. They may also hide in boxes, suitcases, or other items that are moved from residence to residence or from a hotel to home. Bedbugs can live on clothing from home infestations and may be spread by a person unknowingly wearing infested clothing.

    How Do You Get Bed Bugs

    By DoMyOwn staff

    How do people get Bed bugs in the first place? To some it seems like they just magically appear, and people are often left scratching their heads (and other areas…), confused and frustrated that they’ve wound up with a bed full of bugs. However, it is no mystery how bed bugs are spread from place to place; humans have helped spread bed bug infestations for hundreds of years.

    How Bed Bugs Spread

    The incorrect assumption is that dirty locations attract bed bugs and house bed bug populations. Although most dirty locations do attract a host of nasty insects that spread germs and contaminate areas, bed bugs are pleased with clean or dirty.

    Bed bugs are able to spread via human travel and movement. The unique flattened and small round shaped of the bed bug allows them to hide just about anywhere they can squeeze.

    They hitch rides onto the fabrics of furniture, mattresses, luggage, clothing, etc., where they ride until they find a suitable host area, like your bedroom. This is where bed bugs can establish populations, which they can accomplish fairly quickly.

    Where You Can Get Bed Bugs

    Bed bugs are most often found in homes, apartment buildings, college dormitories, and hotels, which are all places with consistent hosts at rest for bed bugs to feed. But bed bugs have also been found in daycares, movie theatres, and even city buses; these places generally don’t have large established populations, but bed bugs can be picked up and transferred from people resting in these areas. Since people are constantly rotating in these spaces, bed bugs can be deposited and picked up on clothing, bags, and purses and taken home.

    Bed bugs hiding in furniture, mattresses, and other items you might bring into your home is another common way of picking up these little hitchhikers.

    Since bed bugs are hitchhikers, they travel commonly by luggage. Hotels and motels, no matter how clean or shining the reputation, can be susceptible to bed bug infestations. This is one of the most common ways people get bed bugs, when the bed bugs hitch a ride back to the traveler’s home.

    Steps to Prevent Getting Bed bugs

    • Never bring in upholstered furniture, bed frames, mattresses, or box springs found on the street into your home.
    • Check all borrowed, rented, or second-hand furniture for bed bugs before you bring them into your home. Check all cracks and crevices, even in wooden furniture.
    • The best way to prevent the spreading of bed bugs when traveling is to check the rooms before you stay in hotels. The nicest and cleanest hotels can be infested. Don’t place luggage on the ground, and inspect mattress, box spring, headboard, etc., for bedbugs before spending a night in your room.
    • If you suspect you’ve been around bed bugs, inspect your clothing and any items you had with you before entering your home. If bedbugs are found, launder items immediately or place in plastic bags until further treatment can be carried out with products like Sterifab.
    • Even if you don’t have bedbugs, seal cracks and crevices in your bedroom with caulk. Door and window frames, baseboards, floorboards, etc., should all be sealed to eliminate bed bug hiding spots. You can even seal cracks and crevices in bedroom furniture. Consider using a bed bug mattress cover, a box spring encasement, and even bed bug pillow covers to prevent bed bugs from taking residence in these items.
    • To do your part in preventing the spread of bed bugs, if you have to throw away any infested items, make sure to cover them in plastic if possible. Always place signs on the items stating that the items are infested in bed bugs. Never donate infested items.

    If you already have a Bed bug infestation, read our article: How to Get Rid of Bed bugs

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