How Bed Bugs Get Into Your Home

How bed bugs get into your home

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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    How Bed Bugs Get into Your Home

    Bed bugs are insects that can hide in the smallest cracks and crevices inside your home. You may be able to find them inside your mattress, in the corners of your bed frame, behind your baseboards, in the outside corners of your dresser drawers, and amongst any pile of clutter. They can be a nuisance, especially since they leave small stains everywhere and are very difficult to get rid of.

    How do Bed Bugs get into my Home?

    Travel Luggage:

    The most common way that you can bring bed bugs into your home is in your luggage. You leave for vacation, all happy and carefree, and then when you return, you have some microscopic hitchhikers that you didn’t know about. This is why it is not only important to check your hotel room when you arrive, but to unpack your luggage outside and clean it and your clothing immediately. The proper treatment will destroy the bed bugs, so that they do not enter your home.

    Used Furniture:

    Another way that bed bugs can enter your home is on used furniture. You find the perfect sofa for sale that someone no longer needs or wants. You purchase it thinking that it would look great in your living room, family room, or your children’s playroom. What you don’t realize is that the sofa is full of bed bugs. Before purchasing any used furniture, you should plan on inspecting it thoroughly for any stains and bugs. If possible, you should leave it out in direct sunlight for a couple of days and vacuum it off before bringing it inside. Just make sure that if you do vacuum it, that you dispose of the bag immediately, in case there were any bed bugs.

    Books:

    If you are the type of person who loves books and you could spend hours in a used book store, you will want to keep an eye out for bed bugs. The binding of any book is a perfect hiding spot for bed bugs, because it is small and dark. Thrift stores can also be filled with bed bugs, especially if the clothing was not washed prior to being displayed. As a person moves the infested clothes throughout the store and the clothes touch other clothing, the bed bugs can be transferred quite easily. If you purchase any of this clothing and do not wash it immediately upon arriving home, then you can introduce the bed bugs to your home.

    Bed bugs can find their way to your clothing from movie theaters, taxis, doctor’s offices, anywhere that there are chairs or seats with fabric. The bed bugs can be left behind by one person and attach to another person’s clothing easily once they sit down.

    Since it is so simple for bed bugs disperse and end up inside a home, it is surprising that more homes are not infested. If you believe that you may have brought bed bugs into your home, you will want to call a professional like Rox Bugs and have them do an inspection. They can get rid of your bed bugs and you can have peace of mind once again when the bed bugs are gone.

    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.

    Department of Health

    Bed Bugs – What They Are and How to Control Them

    Bed bugs have been around for thousands of years. They feed on blood, but are not known to spread any diseases to humans. Some people can be allergic to their bites. Getting rid of a bed bug infestation is not easy, but there are steps you can take to control the problem. There are also steps you can take to avoid bringing bed bugs home.

    What are bed bugs?

    How can bed bugs get into my home?

    • They can come from other infested areas or from used furniture. They can hitch a ride in luggage, purses, backpacks, or other items placed on soft or upholstered surfaces.
    • They can travel between rooms in multi-unit buildings, such as apartment complexes and hotels.

    How can I avoid bringing bed bugs into my home?

    • When staying in a hotel, place your bag on a suitcase stand rather than on the bed or floor. Keep the rack away from walls or furniture. When returning home, wash the clothes from your trip and put them in a hot dryer.
    • Inspect new and used furniture before bringing it inside. Look in seams, tufts and under cushions.

    How do I know if I have a bed bug problem?

    • You can see the bed bugs themselves, their shed skins, or their droppings in mattress seams and other items in the bedroom.
    • There may also be blood stains on sheets.

    How do I control a bed bug problem in my home?

    It can be done, but it usually requires what is called an "integrated pest management" (IPM) approach. This combines techniques that pose the lowest risk to your health and the environment. Try these strategies:

    • Clean and get rid of clutter, especially in your bedroom.
    • Move your bed away from walls or furniture.
    • Vacuum molding, windows and floors every day. Vacuum sides and seams of mattresses, box springs and furniture. Empty the vacuum or the bag immediately and dispose of outside in a sealed container or bag.
    • Wash sheets, pillow cases, blankets and bed skirts and put them in a hot dryer for at least 30 minutes. Consider using mattress and box spring covers –the kind used for dust mite control–and put duct tape over the zippers.
    • Seal cracks and crevices and any openings where pipes or wires come into the home.

    Should I also try pesticides?

    Pesticides may not be effective and can be dangerous if used improperly. If you decide to use pesticides, follow these rules:

    • Only use pesticides that are registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (look for the U.S. EPA Registration Number on the label) and make sure they are labeled to control bed bugs.
    • Do not apply pesticides directly to your body (there are no repellents registered to control bed bugs that can be used on the human body).
    • Do not use outdoor pesticides indoors.
    • If you decide to hire a pest control company, make sure they have experience with bed bugs. They should follow the steps of IPM, along with any pesticide application. Use a company that is registered and employs licensed applicators. The Department of Environmental Conservation has a list of registered companies.

    It takes time and persistence to get rid of bed bugs, and in some cases, the cooperation of landlords, neighbors and others. It can be physically and emotionally exhausting. It can also be expensive when pest control companies are called in. Just remember – bed bugs are more of a nuisance than a health concern and, with vigilance, you can avoid or deal with infestations.

    See the following for more information on bed bug biology and control measures:

    Photo courtesy of Dr. Harold Harlan, Armed Forces Pest Management Board Image Library

    Where Do Bed Bugs Come From – How Do You Get Bed Bugs

    How do you get bed bugs in your house? Anyone who has ever woken up with a chain of red blisters from the bites of night parasites would wonder where bed bugs come from. In most cases, bed bugs are not transferred to the apartments. The thing is that they live there for decades, not revealing their presence at once. Mostly these insects spread from one apartment to another, but where do bed bugs come from?

    It is impossible to answer this question because they just spread through the building being attracted by the presence of humans. How do bed bugs get in bed? After penetration into the premises, insects hide under the beds, in the wardrobes, under the carpets, behind the baseboards, in the cracks of furniture and in mattresses. These insects prefer to settle in places where they can bite people during night time.

    In suburban areas bed bugs find human dwelling using their sense of smell. Then insects move to the buildings from chicken coops and rabbitries, where they parasitize on the skin of medium-sized animals. However, bed bugs parasitism on other mammals and birds is more like an exception, because these insects usually feed on human blood.

    Bed bugs are not very mobile insects. They cannot fly and run much slower than cockroaches, but they can survive without food for quite a long time. Thus, bed bugs can travel for long distances. How do bed bugs spread? Despite the fact that these parasites cannot run fast, they spread through the apartment considerably quickly. They move freely through ventilation holes, electrical wiring channels and cracks in doors. Due to flat shape of their bodies these insects are able to crawl even where no cracks or holes are visible. It is impossible to isolate an apartment from bed bugs because they come through the outlets and by the outer walls through the windows. It is especially true for the apartments in old high-rise buildings and the houses built in the countryside.

    How Do You Get Bed Bugs in Your House

    First, people get bed bugs by bringing them home from journeys. For example, bed bugs can be in the luggage and the things brought from the trips, to the warm countries in particular. Tropical Egypt, Thailand, Indonesia and India seem to be a paradise for thermophilic bed bugs. Thus, travelers have to remember that the last place they traveled to before the bugs appearance is the most likely to be a historic homeland of the blood-sucking parasites. In this case, you can bring a single adult female that may lay eggs and give rise to a new population. You should be cautious because these insects can hide or accidentally fall into the pleats of the clothes, into the suitcases, bags and footwear, and travel through several time zones. This way of getting bed bugs is particularly relevant for backpackers, who often change hotels.

    One more common method of how bed bugs come to the new house is hiding in the furniture, especially in the new one. In furniture factories or stores bugs have nothing to eat; thus, new products are not infested. Pieces of furniture from infested houses and apartments are, on the contrary, the main breeding ground for these parasites.

    People can also get bed bugs on clothes. Although these insects prefer to bite open skin areas, they often hide in the clothes left in the apartment or taken off before going to bed. Thus, you can bring bugs into your house by visiting the infested house or taking guests from such a place. Moreover, there are known cases when bed bugs were found in expensive clothing shops in unworn clothes. The insects got there from people who lived in the infested apartments or from neighboring premises.

    Furthermore, bed bugs can get into the house with new appliances. These insects prefer to spend the daytime in warm places. Thus, they can stay in laptops, tablets, scanners, microwave ovens, and any other appliances, and be transferred to a new place from the store.

    Moreover, bed bugs can get into the apartment being carried by animals. It is a very rare way of transferring these insects, but it may happen too. Despite the fact that bed bugs do not feed on cats and dogs because they cannot bite their skin tissue, these pets can transfer the parasites. Moreover, bats and birds can be transmitters of these parasites as well.

    Thus, once appeared in the house, bed bugs can spread through the entire apartment. They can inhabit all the places where they can be caught only by the professional desinfectants. Moreover, bed bugs can fall into anabiosis because of the absence of food. Thus, the bugs can stay in uninhabited apartments for more than a few months. A flat can be perfectly clean at first glance, but insects and their larvae will crawl out of the cracks as soon as they smell a human body.

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