How Do Bed Bugs Enter Your House

How do bed bugs enter 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

    What Attracts Bedbugs to Human Environments?

    • B.A., Political Science, Rutgers University

    Once considered a pest of the past, bedbugs now make regular headlines as they infest homes, hotels, and dormitories worldwide. As bedbugs spread, more people worry about them and want to know what causes a bedbug infestation.

    Though it might seem as if bedbug infestations are on the rise, historical context indicates that bedbugs and other bloodsucking parasites have been associated with humans for thousands of years. Throughout that history, people have endured them feeding on their blood. Bedbugs all but disappeared when people started using DDT and other pesticides to keep insects out of their homes. Although news headlines suggest bedbugs are conquering the world, the reality is that bedbug infestations are still at historically low numbers.

    Why are they called bedbugs? Once they settle into your home, they congregate where you spend a lot of sedentary time: chairs, couches, and especially beds. They are attracted to you by the carbon dioxide in the air you breathe out, and you do a lot of breathing over the hours you’re in bed. Then they feed on your blood.

    Bedbugs Don’t Care If You’re Clean or Dirty

    Contrary to popular belief, there is no association between bedbugs and filth. They feed on human and animal blood, and as long as a source of blood is available to them, they will happily take up residence in even the most pristine home.

    Being poor doesn’t put you at greater risk for bedbugs, and having wealth doesn’t immunize you from a bedbug infestation. Although poverty doesn’t cause bedbugs, impoverished communities may lack the resources needed to control infestations, making them more persistent and pervasive in such areas.

    Bedbugs Are Excellent Hitchhikers

    For bedbugs to infest your home, they have to hitch a ride on someone or something. They don’t usually stay on their human hosts after feeding, but they might hide in clothing and inadvertently go along for the ride to a new location. Most often, bedbugs travel in luggage after someone has stayed in an infested hotel room. Bedbugs may even infest theaters and other public spaces and spread to new locations via purses, backpacks, coats, or hats.

    Bedbugs Go Where the Action Is

    Since bedbugs travel by hitchhiking, infestations are more common in places with high rates of turnover in the human population: apartment buildings, dormitories, homeless shelters, hotels and motels, and military barracks. Any time you have a lot of people coming and going, there’s an increased risk that someone will carry a few bedbugs into the building. In general, owners of single-family homes have a lower risk of getting bedbugs.

    Bedbugs Hide in Clutter

    Once in your home, bedbugs scurry quickly to select a new hiding place; in beds and other furniture, behind baseboards, under wallpaper, or inside switch plates. Then it’s just a matter of time before they begin multiplying. A single female may arrive at your doorstep already carrying enough eggs to produce hundreds of offspring. While filth does not benefit bedbugs, clutter does. The more cluttered your home is, the more hiding places there are for bedbugs and the harder it will be to get rid of them.

    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 to Prevent Bed Bugs from Getting into Your Home

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

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

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

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

    How Do You Identify a Bed Bug?

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

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

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

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

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

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

    What Are Bed Bugs Attracted to?

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

    • Frequent foot traffic
    • Access to warmth
    • Carbon dioxide

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

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

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

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

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

    What Causes You to Get Bed Bugs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Inspect Secondhand Furniture Before Buying

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

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

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

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

    Regularly Inspect Your Bedding for Signs of Bed Bugs

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

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

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

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

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

    When Traveling, Always Check the Room for Bed Bugs

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

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

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

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

    What Keeps Bed Bugs Away?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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