How Do Bed Bug Get In Your House

Bedbugs

Bedbugs are small insects that often live on furniture or bedding. Their bites can be itchy, but do not usually cause other health problems.

Check if it’s bedbugs

Jeff March / Alamy Stock Photo

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

Signs of bedbugs include:

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

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

Otto Pleska / Alamy Stock Photo

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

How you can treat bedbug bites

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

Things you can do include:

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

You can ask a pharmacist about:

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

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

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

You may have an infection and need treatment with antibiotics.

Coronavirus update: how to contact a GP

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

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

How to get rid of bedbugs

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

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

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

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

do not keep clutter around your bed

do not bring secondhand furniture indoors without carefully checking it first

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

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

How do bed bug get in 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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    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.

    How Do Bed Bugs Get In Your House?

    You’d love to avoid bringing any bed bugs into your house. Even the thought of having them crawling all over you during your sleep, draining you of blood, makes you not want to close your eyes. But you aren’t quite sure how bed bugs get into your house to begin with.

    And if you don’t know how it happens, how will you ever prevent it? To get an idea of how these pint-sized pests get into your house, keep reading this article.

    Where Are You Most Likely To Pick Up Bed Bugs?

    You aren’t going to catch bed bugs from a leisurely stroll through the woods, like you would with ticks. With ticks, if they don’t find a human host, they’re still going to be fed. They’ll hitch a ride with any animal and start feeding on their blood. But with bed bugs, it’s a different story.

    They don’t want to feed on an animal, although they’ll do it if they are desperate. Because they want human blood when given a choice, you’ll find bed bugs in places where people congregate. Let’s look at some of the popular hot spots.

    Hotels/Hostels

    If you read the news these days, you’ll see that hotels have been struggling in recent years with a bed bug explosion. It can be enough to make someone want to camp out instead of staying at a hotel and with good reason.

    Bed bugs are tricky to spot and by the time you put your bags down near the bed in a hotel, a bed bug could have already crawled inside, particularly if you check in at night when they are the most active.

    Although it sounds strange, keeping your luggage in the bathtub (or in the bathroom at the very least) is a great idea when staying in places you’re worried could be infested.

    Bed bugs generally stay away from bathrooms as they’re not inhabited by people much, and the tiling that’s usually present doesn’t offer much protection for them.

    Also, by putting your luggage in the bath, you’re creating a barrier against the bed bugs as they probably won’t be able to climb the slippery surface. Bed bugs lack suction pads on their legs, and they can’t jump or fly.

    Other Infested Houses

    Hotels aren’t the only place when you can pick up bed bugs. It can happen at any infested home you go to. Since people usually aren’t exactly forthcoming about any bed bug infestation they might be experiencing, you could be in a home filled with bed bugs and not even know it.

    If the infestation isn’t too severe, your unsuspecting host might not even be aware there is a bed bug problem. So if you’re at a relative’s house, a neighbor’s house, or even your best friend’s place, there is always a remote possibility that those places contain bed bugs.

    Public Transportation

    It may be cheap to use and get you reliably where you’re going to, but public transportation can be scary too. You’ll run into some unsavory characters from time to time, and you also should be worried about the things you can’t see.

    Bed bugs in buses, subways, and cabs can be notoriously hard to spot. You’ll probably be too busy people watching or making sure you don’t miss your stop to notice these small bugs crawling into your bag or purse.

    Old Beds/Mattresses/Sofas Outside The Home

    It can be tempting to seek out second-hand furniture when you need some for your apartment or house. And there’s nothing wrong with it, if you are confident the furniture doesn’t have any stowaways on it.

    But the real problem comes in when you don’t know the people who have owned that furniture before you and you’re not sure if they’ve ever had a problem with bed bugs.

    While you’ll definitely end up saving money on second-hand furniture, the savings may not be as great as you think they will be. If you have to end up hiring a professional to come in and get rid of bed bugs that have overtaken your house as a result of bringing in used furniture, you could end up paying a lot more in the long run than you would have if you just bought new furniture to begin with.

    Bed bugs aren’t cheap to get rid of. Just remember that when you start looking at second-hand furniture.

    Second-hand Clothes

    If you like to shop at thrift stores, you’ll need to take some extra precautions to ensure you’re not setting yourself up for a bed bug infestation. Not all of the clothes in thrift stores are clean when they’re brought in. Even if you don’t see any bugs, there could be eggs attached.

    It’s something you should be aware of when you bring those items into your home – they should be washed immediately and dried by using high heat in your dryer.

    How Do Bed Bugs Travel Home With You?

    Bed bugs are great little hitchhikers. They can tag along without you even knowing it.

    When you’re at a hotel, they can climb into your suitcase and into your clothes, hiding away. Because they are wonderful at hiding in the crevices of things, you’ll never even notice they’re there. Then when you come home, set your suitcase down inside and start to unpack, they’ll come out and look for new hiding places and accommodations.

    Bed bugs may also hitch a ride on your clothes to get from one location to another. But unlike ticks and lice, they don’t attach themselves directly to your skin for the ride. They save that for when they’re ready to start feeding on you.

    When you’re riding on public transportation, try to hold your purse or suitcase, if possible, on your lap. That will stop any bed bugs that are crawling on the floor from wandering into your bag. While they can still climb up onto the seat and get onto your clothes that way, there’s no need to make things easier for them.

    Will Bringing a Bed Bug Home Definitely Cause An Infestation?

    Bringing home a single bed bug won’t necessarily cause an infestation. If it’s a male, there’s no way for him to reproduce. He’ll bite you when you sleep and draw some blood, but when his life span ends, that will be it. You won’t have to lift a finger – things will just fizzle out on their own.

    But if a pregnant female is the bed bug that hitches its way into your house, it could be a different story. In that case, that one bed bug could very well start a full-fledged infestation. In just a few months, you could be in an epic battle.

    So, remember, if you’ve been exposed to an infestation, don’t panic. The odds of you bringing home enough viable bed bugs to start an infestation at your own home is still pretty slight. It will be much likelier to happen if the place you’ve been to had a really heavy infestation instead of just a small bed bug problem.

    Tips For Not Bringing Bed Bugs Back Home With You

    Whether you’re going to a hotel for a short getaway, staying at a friend’s house, or shopping for some second-hand items, it can pay to know the best strategies for keeping those bed bugs out of your house. Here are some ways to help you accomplish that.

    When you go to a hotel, keep your suitcases in the bathtub or on a rack near the entrance while you do a quick once-over of the room. Check out the crevices on the mattresses and the headboards for any signs of bed bugs.

    You’ll want to look for any dark-colored excrement stains on the mattresses, as well as signs of shed skins, eggs, or live bugs. If you notice any tiny blood splatters on the mattress, those could have been left behind by bed bugs when they were feeding.

    When you do come home, take your suitcases straight to your washer and dryer and put your clothes through there. If you can’t wash them immediately, put them in garbage bags and seal them up so the bed bugs can’t get out. Then when you’re ready to wash them, unseal the bag and stick them right in there immediately.

    If you insist on buying second-hand furniture, at least try to buy it from people you know. While they may still not tell you whether they’ve dealt with bed bugs in the past, they’ll be likelier to tell you than a total stranger will be.

    Also, no matter how tempting it is, never take any free couches, mattresses or chairs that people place at their curbside. You have no idea why that furniture was placed out there to begin with – it could be because of a bed bug infestation.

    If you decide you want to risk taking a free couch or you buy a piece of second-hand furniture, make sure to vacuum it before you bring it into your home. Use a high-powered vacuum that offers plenty of suction and make sure you pay close attention to the crevices of the couch or the mattress you’re bringing into your home.

    How To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs With DIY Treatment Methods

    Hiring pest control professionals can be costly, and while it’s usually the best option, there are some preliminary steps you can take to get rid of bed bugs yourself.

    1. Carefully bag and wash all of your bedding and clear any clutter around the room. Bed bugs love to hide in piles of clothes, so remove these and wash them before you start cleaning.

    3. Use a high-powered vacuum to clean around the bed to take care of stray bugs and eggs. Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter is vital to ensure bed bugs cannot escape once captured. The Shark Navigator Upright Vacuum easily ticks all of the boxes while remaining lightweight and easily maneuverable.

    4. Use a specialist, non-toxic bed bug spray to clean your bed-frame, headboard, and surrounding furniture. Bed Bug Patrol Bed Bug Killer is a completely natural spray that has a reported 100% kill rate against live bed bugs in controlled tests, and most importantly, it’s child and pet-friendly.

    5. Pull your bed away from the walls and place bed bug interceptor cups under each leg. These will isolate your bed and help to prevent the spread of bed bugs. Additionally, interceptors can serve as tools to help you track progress. Ideally, the interceptors should contain fewer bed bugs every time you empty them. My favorites are these Bed Bug Blocker Interceptor Traps.

    6. Using a bed bug mattress protector to encase your mattress will either help to save it if it’s yet to be infested, or otherwise keep bed bugs trapped in and around it until they eventually die of starvation. My favorite is the SureGuard Mattress Encasement which is thick, strong, and will help to stop bed bugs of all sizes from getting to, or from, your mattress. A SureGuard Box Spring Encasement is also available.

    7. If you wish to be extremely thorough, specialist bed bug heaters can be purchased to raise household items to a temperature that is sure to kill all bed bugs and eggs. ZappBug is the most popular option, and is designed to automatically reach the all-important killing temperature to eradicate all stages of the bed bugs life cycle. Large and small versions are also available.

    Summary

    Now you know how bed bugs get into your house, you might be able to prevent it from happening in the future.

    By taking a few simple precautions, you might be able to save yourself the time, expense, and frustration that comes along with a bed bug infestation. While you won’t be able to eliminate your risk completely, your chances of getting bed bugs will be much lower with the advice you have learned from within this article.

    Bed Bug Infestation

    Bed bugs are flat and small in size, allowing them to hide easily from view during the day when they are not active. They hide in mattresses, bed frames, bedding, furniture, carpets, baseboards and bedroom clutter. They are most commonly found in the seams of mattresses or inside box springs. However, it is not necessary to locate a specimen to identify an infestation. Their excrement leaves brown to black stains on mattresses and linens, and bloodstains may be visible where bed bugs have been accidentally crushed.

    Bed bugs are commonly transported within luggage, allowing them to spread anywhere humans settle. Infestations have become a problem in domestic households, hotels, dormitories and other places of residence. Because of their small size and propensity to hide within mattresses and furniture, controlling a bed bug infestation can prove difficult.

    The presence of only one fertile female bed bug in a friendly environment such as a single or multiple family dwelling is an infestation that is waiting to happen. Since a healthy, blood-fed female bed bug can produce from 200-500 healthy eggs during her lifetime and may lay from 2-5 eggs each day, the likelihood of an infestation of bed bugs is extremely high unless bed bug control efforts by your pest management professional are employed to eliminate the infestation.


    Mattress Infested With Bed Bugs

    Bed Bug Control

    Cimex lectularius L.

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