How Can Bed Bugs Get Into Your House

How can bed bugs get into your house

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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    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

    Can Bed Bugs Live in Wood?

    If you have wooden furniture or a wooden bedpost, you may be concerned about bed bugs using these items as a hiding spot in your home. You may be especially concerned if you are looking into buying used furniture, since bed bugs often enter homes this way. But can bed bugs live in wood?

    Do bed bugs live in wood?

    Bed bugs are flat, reddish-brown insects that are about as small as a grain of rice. Their size and shape enables them to hide in many cracks and crevices, allowing them to stay near their host during the day and find quick blood meals at night. While certain wood pieces might make it easier for bed bugs to hide, eliminating wooden furniture from your room or house will not prevent bed bugs.

    How can you avoid bed bugs in furniture?

    Bed bugs don’t chew through wood in search of a good hiding place. Instead, they depend on cracks, corners and other small spaces. For this reason, when picking out new furniture – especially used furniture – choosing pieces with hard flat surfaces can be helpful. Items that are cracked, or have intricate details, will make it harder to spot bed bugs.

    Knowing how to properly identify bed bugs can help you search for them. There are a few bugs that look like bed bugs, and you will want to be wary of those.

    When buying a new piece of furniture, or if you are concerned about bed bugs in furniture you already have, conduct a thorough search. Take out drawers and break down any pieces that can be disassembled, cleaning each piece individually. Signs of bed bugs include black spotting and molted skins. Be sure to inspect and clean items before you bring them into your home.

    Can bed bugs live in wood furniture pieces? Absolutely. And, any other hiding place that they can squeeze themselves into. If you are concerned about bed bugs in your home, consider contacting a pest management professional.

    17 surprising ways you can bring bedbugs into your home

    Your home is your castle, and there’s nothing worse than having unwanted guests on your turf — especially the insect kind. A bedbug infestation in particular is bad news because the insects’ flattened bodies allow them to fit into the smallest of spaces — roughly the width of a credit card, according to WebMD. That means there are many ways you can bring bedbugs into your home. Here are 17 of them.

    Secondhand furniture is a common way for bedbugs to spread.

    Bringing home secondhand furniture is a risk because, if the items are infested, the bedbugs will spread through your home, according to the EPA. And, despite their name, bedbugs don’t only reside in beds. They can hide between cushions on sofas and in the seams of chairs and couches.

    Secondhand clothing poses a bedbug risk.

    Thrift shoppers, take note: Bedbugs can reside in used clothing. Put any secondhand garments in the dryer on a medium or high setting for one cycle once you bring them home, according to Scientific American. This will zap the bugs.

    Hospitals can be havens for bedbugs.

    If you think hospitals are gross, here’s another reason to be squicked out: According to a survey by the National Pest Management Association, more than a third of US pest-management companies responded to bedbug infestations in hospitals in 2012.

    Your gym could be infested with the insects.

    When you leave the gym, you might be bringing home more than ripped abs: You could pick up bedbugs from other gym-goers’ personal belongings, like gym bags, yoga mats, and clothing in lockers, according to Terminix.

    Even movie theaters can be hot spots for the insects.

    Cushions in movie theaters may also be home to bedbugs — as well as the clothing and belongings of other theatergoers — which can, in turn, spread to you, according to the Travel Channel.

    Bedbugs can hide on airplanes, too.

    Speaking of upholstery, the seats on airplanes — as well as the belongings of other passengers — can harbor bedbugs and allow them to spread to you and your stuff, according to MentalFloss.

    Bedbugs can sometimes hide in the folds of curtains.

    Secondhand curtains may also be a culprit, as bedbugs may hide in the folds and hitch a ride into your home, according to the EPA.

    The insects love to hitch a ride in luggage.

    Borrowing your buddy’s suitcase for your upcoming Europe trip? Make sure you inquire if he’s had any bedbug issues lately, because the insects can hide in luggage, according to WebMD. Likewise, if you bring luggage into an infested hotel room, the bugs can get inside and come home with you.

    Shared laundry facilities can spread bedbugs.

    If you use a laundromat or a shared laundry room in a dorm or apartment building, we’ve got bad news: Bedbugs can jump ship from other peoples clothing and infest yours, according to the EPA.

    Bedbugs love to hang out in college dorms.

    College dorms in general are another hotspot for bedbugs, according to Scientific American.

    Cracks in your home could allow bedbugs to spread from other units.

    An apartment or condo that’s not properly maintained — whether by you or your landlord — could invite a bedbug infestation. If a nearby unit is infested, the bugs can move through wall voids and enter your home through crevices and cracks around light sockets and baseboards, according to the EPA .

    Bedbugs can spread through vacuums.

    Some people think vacuuming up bedbugs and their eggs is an easy way to get rid of them. However, a vacuum can spread bedbugs to other rooms or homes — say, if a house cleaner uses a vacuum in an infested home and then uses it in yours, according to Scientific American.

    Even electronics like phones and radios can harbor bedbugs.

    It’s not just soft materials that bedbugs call home. Surprisingly, they can stow away in telephones and radios, according to WebMD.

    Coat closets can be bedbug havens.

    Be careful where you hang your jacket. Coat closets in offices, schools, and other public places can allow bedbugs to spread from one person’s infested item to those of others, according to the EPA.

    Taking home a library book could mean taking home bedbugs.

    Say it isn’t so: Although it’s not common, it is possible to bring home bedbugs in a library book, according to Bustle.

    Break rooms and office lounges can spell bad news.

    You might want to skip your next coffee break. If your break room or office lounge has upholstered furniture, bedbugs may be hiding in the furniture — and could then spread to you, according to the EPA.

    The insects stow away in footwear, too.

    Even shoes are a potential hiding spot, according to Scientific American. Whether you’re buying used shoes, borrowing a pair from a friend, or walking through an infested location, your kicks can bring bedbugs back home with you.

    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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