How Do Bed Bugs Live In Walls

10 Myths About Bedbugs

  • B.A., Political Science, Rutgers University

There are many misconceptions about the humble bedbug. Bedbugs (or cimicids) belong to a highly specialized family of insects that feed off the blood of humans, bats, and birds. The best-known members are the temperate-climate parasiteCimex lectularius(which means "bedbug" in Latin) andCimex hemipterus, a tropical version. Bedbugs are the most widely recognized insect in the world. They are known to have fed on humans for more than 4,000 years—and probably much longer. Unfortunately, there are many myths about these tiny pests.

If You Wake Up With Insect Bites, You Have Bedbugs

Bedbugs tend to bite on locations that are exposed during sleep—the arms, legs, and back as well as the face and eyes. The insects prefer sites that lack hair, with a thin epidermis that provides access to plentiful blood.

However, bedbugs are not the only nocturnal feeder on humans. Quite a few other arthropods could be the cause of bite marks, including fleas, mites, spiders, or even bat bugs. Also, many medical conditions cause rashes that look similar to bug bites. If the marks persist but you don’t find signs of an infestation, consider a trip to the doctor.

Are you the only one in your household waking up with bites? People react to bedbug bites differently, just as they do with mosquito and other insect bites. Two people can sleep on the same bedbug-infested mattress, and one will wake up without any signs of being bitten while the other will be covered in bite marks.

Bedbugs Cannot Be Seen by the Naked Eye

While bedbugs are pretty small insects, they aren’t microscopic. If you know where to look for them, you can definitely see them without the aid of a magnifier. The bedbug nymph is roughly the size of a poppy seed. Adults measure a bit larger than 3/16th of an inch, or about the size of an apple seed or a lentil.   The eggs, which are just the size of a pinhead, are harder to see without magnification.

Bedbug Infestations Are Rare

Although bedbugs all but disappeared in developed countries in the 1930s and again in the 1980s, global bedbug infestations are increasing in the 21st century. Rises in bedbug activity have been seen on every continent except Antarctica. In the United States, bedbugs are reported in all 50 states, and an estimated one in five Americans either has had a bedbug infestation in their home or knows someone who has.   Today, infestations are found in offices and retail environments, in health and transportation buildings, and even in movie houses: basically, anywhere people sleep or sit.

Bedbugs Are a Sign of a Dirty House

Although there is a great social stigma to having a bedbug infestation, bedbugs don’t care how neat and tidy your house is, nor do they care if you’re the best housekeeper on the block. As long as you have blood pumping through your veins, bedbugs will happily take up residence in your home. The same rule holds true for hotels and resorts. Whether a hotel has bedbugs has nothing to do with how clean or dirty the establishment is. Even a five-star resort can host bedbugs. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that clutter can make it much more difficult to get rid of bedbugs once they’re in your home—the mess gives the insects plenty of places to hide.

Bedbugs Only Bite After Dark

While bedbugs prefer to do their dirty work under cover of darkness, the light won’t stop a hungry bedbug from biting you. In desperation, some people will try leaving all their lights on at night, hoping the bedbugs will stay hidden like cockroaches. All this will do is make you more sleep-deprived.

Bedbugs spend most of their time hidden away. They only come out to feed once every three to seven days, usually from one to five a.m. They fully engorge themselves on your blood in 10 to 20 minutes, and then they go back to their hiding places to digest their food. After a meal, adult bedbugs may increase in length by 30 to 50 percent and in weight by 150 to 200 percent.  

Bedbugs Live in Mattresses

Bedbugs do hide in the seams and crevices of your mattress. Since these nocturnal insects feed on your blood, it is to their advantage to live close to the place where you spend the night. But that doesn’t mean bedbugs only live in mattresses. The insects also inhabit carpets and couches, dressers and closets, and even places where you’d never think to look, such as inside picture frames and switch plate covers.

Infestations can be extremely costly, resulting in multimillion-dollar damage in the hospitality industry, poultry industry, and private and communal households. Costs include payment for pest control, damage to social reputation, and replacement of infested clothing and furniture.

You Can Feel a Bedbug Bite

Bedbug saliva contains a substance that serves as a mild anesthetic, so when one bites you, it actually does you the favor of numbing your skin first. It’s very unlikely that you’d ever feel a bedbug bite when it happens.

Reactions to bites vary from individual to individual. Some people have no reactions at all; often the bites start out as small indistinct lesions about two-tenths of an inch in diameter, which may develop into larger circular or ovoid welts. Bedbug bites are usually less than ½ inch in size.   If there are a large number of bites, they can give the appearance of a generalized rash. They itch intensely, cause sleep deprivation, and can be associated with secondary bacterial infections as a consequence of scratching.

Bedbugs Jump From the Floor to Your Bed

Bedbugs aren’t built for jumping. They simply don’t have the legs for it as fleas and grasshoppers do. Bedbugs don’t have wings, either, so they can’t fly. They can only crawl for locomotion, so moving from the floor to the bed requires them to climb up a leg of the bed, or to scale belongings or furniture you’ve placed nearby.

This can work to your advantage if you’re battling bedbugs, as you can create barriers to keep them from climbing onto your bed. Cover the bed legs in double-sided tape, or place them in trays of water. Of course, if your bedspread touches the floor, the bedbugs will still be able to climb up, and the insects have also been known to crawl up the wall to the ceiling and then drop onto the bed.

Bedbugs Transmit Diseases to People

Although bedbugs can and do carry infectious diseases, there is little danger of the viruses being transmitted to humans. So far, scientists have found no evidence that bedbugs are capable of transmitting diseases to human hosts. For this reason, they’re considered a nuisance pest rather than a health threat.

But even though they don’t transmit diseases, bedbugs aren’t harmless. Some people experience severe allergic reactions to bedbug bites, and people who are bitten sometimes suffer from secondary infections. The emotional stress of dealing with a persistent bedbug infestation can also have a negative impact on your health.

Bedbugs Can Survive a Year Without a Meal

Technically, this is true. Under the right conditions, bedbugs have been known to survive as long as a year without a meal. Bedbugs, like all insects, are cold-blooded, so when temperatures drop, their body temperatures decrease. If it gets cold enough, bedbug metabolism will slow down, and they’ll stop eating temporarily.

However, it is highly unlikely that it would ever get cold enough in your home to trigger such a long period of inactivity. For practical purposes, then, this statement is false. At normal room temperature, a bedbug might go as long as two to three months without a meal, but that’s about it.

Where Do Bed Bugs Hide?

They can fit almost anywhere. So where do bed bugs hide? Here are the TOP 8 bed bug hiding places, plus other spots that will surprise you. Learn where to look for them here.

What good is knowing where to look if you don’t know what you’re looking for?If you don’t already know what bed bugs look like and aren’t aware of the other signs you have bed bugs, take a quick look now. I’ll wait right here.

To understand where bed bugs hide, you need to know a little about their behavior. They are stealthy creatures that feed on human blood in a “hit and run” pattern. They come out (usually while you’re sleeping) only to feed. As soon as they’ve had their meal, they scurry back to their hiding places until it’s time for them to make another food run.

Typically, they hide near the food source, soyou will usually find them within 5 feet or so of the places you spend prolonged periods of time.As an infestation grows, they do tend to spread further away from the main feeding area, though.

NOTE:The lists below only account for bed bug hiding places in areas where people are living. They don’t account for how the hitchhike their way into your life in the first place.

So without further ado, here are the.

Top 8 Bed Bug Hiding Places

According to a study of infested living environments conducted by the University of Kentucky, this was the breakdown of the most frequent places where bed bugs were found to be hiding:

  1. Box Spring (34.6%)
  2. Couch and/or Chair (22.6%)
  3. Mattress (22.4%)
  4. Bed Frame and/or Head Board (13.4%)
  5. Other (3.1%)
  6. Walls and/or Ceilings (2.3%)
  7. Baseboard (1.4%)
  8. Dresser and/or Night Stand (0.2%)

What about that "Other" 3.1% in the number 5 position? The study didn’t break it down. It was a combination locations that individually did not make the list.

Where Else Do Bed Bugs Hide?

This is a "usual suspects" kind of list of typical hiding places:

  • Clothing
  • Bedding
  • Curtains
  • Luggage, handbags, gym bags and backpacks
  • Luggage racks (in hotel rooms)
  • In/around clutter (particularly on the floor)
  • Closets (mostly near the sleeping area)
  • Coffee tables and end tables (especially if bedbugs are found in a nearby sofa or chair)
  • Under rugs and at carpet edges

Surprising Places Where Bed Bugs Hide

Bed bugs have been found in all kinds of places, so this is not an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination.

  • Behind/Inside electrical outlets and switch plates
  • Behind pictures and in/around picture frames (same goes for mirrors)
  • In wallpaper seams
  • Door and window moldings
  • Door hinges
  • Electronic devices (Cell Phones,Computers, TVs, Stereos,etc.)
  • Books
  • Toy boxes
  • Dog beds and dog/Cat cages
  • Laundry rooms (from infested clothing lying around)
  • Cars

You might be thinking, “This doesn’t help me a bit – they could be anywhere!” So, keep this in mind.

The reality is (nearly all the time) bed bugs hide in and very near the location where they feed.That means places that you rest for long periods of time – namely your bed – and wherever you “lounge” when you’re not sleeping. (Sofa, computer desk, gaming chair – whatever your seat of choice might be).

Finally, lest you feel totally defeated and overwhelmed, I give you. (big sigh of relief!).

5 Places Bed Bugs Do NOT Hide (usually)

If you do find them in these places, you may have a very advanced infestation on your hands.(In that case, jump on over to the Bed Bug Pest Control section, because you need to take action as soon as possible.) Just don’t do anything until you at least read the bed bug control ‘no-no’s.

  • Kitchens (unless this is your “lounging area”)
  • Bathrooms – especially not the bathtub
  • Garages
  • Unfinished Basements
  • Any rooms that are not often in use

Now that you know some answers to the question "where do bed bugs hide", it’s time to learn how to find bed bugs in their hideouts and how to do it without helping them spread.

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Bed Bugs in Walls

It is a common misconception that bed bugs,Cimex lectularius, are only found in beds. The reality is that you can find bed bugs in walls, furniture, carpeting and other locations in your home. If you are wondering, "Where do bed bugs hide," keep reading to find some of the most common sites for an infestation.

Hiding in plain sight

Adult bed bugs are visible to the naked eye, but have the ability to wedge their flattened, oval-shaped bodies into the smallest of spaces. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s factsheet on bed bugs, a good rule of thumb is to check cracks and spaces with a credit card. Bed bugs are about the same width as most credit cards, so if the card fits into a space, a bed bug could too.

In addition to looking in bedding, you should also look for bed bugs on the wall behind the bed, along the edges of drawers, down baseboards, in the corners of rooms (including where the ceiling and wall meet), inside electrical outlets and in wall switches. In cases where an infestation is more severe, bed bugs may also be found behind wall hangings or under loose wallpaper, in or around electrical appliances, on curtains, between cushions or in the seams of couches or upholstered chairs.

If your household has pets, you should check their bedding, and the animals themselves for signs of bed bugs.

Bed bugs in walls

These pests can travel through walls if an infestation gets bad enough. Bed bugs have been known to use pipes and electrical wires as highways into homes. Though this is more common in hotels, apartment complexes and dormitories, it can also be how an infestation spreads from room to room in a single-family home.

They may also take refuge inside clothing or luggage, both of which should be inspected and cleaned thoroughly after any travel.

If you are seeing bed bugs – on the walls, bedding or anywhere else in your home – don’t panic, there is a solution. Where do bed bugs hide when Terminix® is on the scene? They don’t. Call Terminix today to schedule your free bed bug inspection.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs (picture on the left) likely get their name from their habit of feeding on humans while they sleep in their beds. They are found in virtually every place people tend to gather, including residences, hotels, schools, offices, retail stores and even public transportation.

If you do identify bed bugs in your home, contact a pest professional promptly. They will be able to inspect your home, confirm the species and recommend a course of bed bug treatment.

Pest Stats

Color

Unfed adults are mahogany; engorged bed bugs are red-brown. Nymphs are nearly colorless.

Shape

Flat, broad oval when unfed; swollen and elongated when fed.

Adults are 1/4 inch long. Nymphs range from 1.3 mm to 4-5 mm.

Antennae

Region

Found throughout U.S.

Bed Bug Photos

Photo of an unfed adult bed bug on the skin

Photo of a male and female bed bugs with eggs

Photo of a bed bug to scale on a penny

Close-up photo of the head and thorax of a bed bug

Photo of a bed bug on human skin

Photo of an adult bed bug on a piece of velcro

Photo of bed bug skins – a telltale sign of a bed bug infestation

Photo of a baby bed bug and fecal spots

Snapshot of the appearance and distribution of bed bugs

Videos View All Videos

This video will take you on an educational trip through the history of bed bugs, teach you how to be vigilant to minimize your risk of encountering them and how to effectively deal with this resilient pest if you have an infestation.

Watch this demonstration on the proper way to inspect for bed bugs.

Here are some tips to avoid bringing bed bugs inside your home after traveling.

Bed bugs feed on the blood of humans and other warm-blooded hosts. If you are bitten by a bed bug, the most common threat is from the bite-mark itself, which can turn into a large, raised, itchy welt. For more on this blood-sucking pest, check out the bed bug pest guide.

Bed bugs are NOT known to transmit disease to humans. They also do not transmit MRSA, or methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus. For more information on bed bugs, visitAll Things Bed Bugs.

Concerned about bed bugs and disease? Dr. Parada assures us there is no evidence that bed bugs transmit disease to humans. Learn more about bed bugs here.

Think you may have bed bug bites? Dr. Parada explains the signs and symptoms of bed bug bites, which can be difficult to tell. Learn more about bed bug bites here.

How do I know if I have bed bugs? Dr. Jim Fredericks, chief entomologist for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), shares some advice. Visit All Things Bed Bugs for more information about this elusive pest.

Why are bed bugs so hard to control? Dr. Jim Fredericks, chief entomologist with the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), has the answer! Learn more about bed bugs in the All Things Bed Bugs hub.

This public service announcement highlights the dangers of bed bug infestations. It features close up footage of bed bugs feedings on human skin.

Bed bugs (picture on the left) likely get their name from their habit of feeding on humans while they sleep in their beds. They are found in virtually every place people tend to gather, including residences, hotels, schools, offices, retail stores and even public transportation.

If you do identify bed bugs in your home, contact a pest professional promptly. They will be able to inspect your home, confirm the species and recommend a course of bed bug treatment.

Pest Stats

Color

Unfed adults are mahogany; engorged bed bugs are red-brown. Nymphs are nearly colorless.

Shape

Flat, broad oval when unfed; swollen and elongated when fed.

Adults are 1/4 inch long. Nymphs range from 1.3 mm to 4-5 mm.

Antennae

Region

Found throughout U.S.

Videos View All Videos

This video will take you on an educational trip through the history of bed bugs, teach you how to be vigilant to minimize your risk of encountering them and how to effectively deal with this resilient pest if you have an infestation.

Watch this demonstration on the proper way to inspect for bed bugs.

Here are some tips to avoid bringing bed bugs inside your home after traveling.

Bed bugs feed on the blood of humans and other warm-blooded hosts. If you are bitten by a bed bug, the most common threat is from the bite-mark itself, which can turn into a large, raised, itchy welt. For more on this blood-sucking pest, check out the bed bug pest guide.

Bed bugs are NOT known to transmit disease to humans. They also do not transmit MRSA, or methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus. For more information on bed bugs, visitAll Things Bed Bugs.

Concerned about bed bugs and disease? Dr. Parada assures us there is no evidence that bed bugs transmit disease to humans. Learn more about bed bugs here.

Think you may have bed bug bites? Dr. Parada explains the signs and symptoms of bed bug bites, which can be difficult to tell. Learn more about bed bug bites here.

How do I know if I have bed bugs? Dr. Jim Fredericks, chief entomologist for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), shares some advice. Visit All Things Bed Bugs for more information about this elusive pest.

Why are bed bugs so hard to control? Dr. Jim Fredericks, chief entomologist with the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), has the answer! Learn more about bed bugs in the All Things Bed Bugs hub.

This public service announcement highlights the dangers of bed bug infestations. It features close up footage of bed bugs feedings on human skin.

Habits

Bed bugs like to travel and are good hitchhikers. They will hide in suitcases, boxes and shoes to be near a food supply. They are elusive, nocturnal creatures. They can hide behind baseboards and in cracks, crevices, and folded areas of beds, bedding and adjacent furniture, especially mattresses and box springs. Bed bugs can also hide in electrical switchplates, picture frames, wallpaper and nearly anywhere inside a home, car, bus, or other shelter. Bed bugs usually come out at night for a blood meal. However, they are opportunistic insects and can take a blood meal during the day, especially in heavily-infested areas. Bed bugs usually require 5-10 minutes to engorge with blood. After feeding, they move to secluded places and hide for 5-10 days. During this time in the bed bug life cycle, they do not feed but instead digest their meal, mate, and lay eggs.

Habitat

So where do bed bugs live? Bed Bugs like to hide in small cracks and crevices close to a human environment. They can be found behind baseboards, wallpaper, upholstery, and in furniture crevices. Bed bugs are also known to survive in temporary or alternative habitats, such as backpacks and under the seats in cars, busses and trains.

Threats

Although bed bugs can dine on any warm-blooded animal, they primarily dine on humans. Bed bugs do not transmit diseases, but their bites can become red, itchy welts.

Can bed bugs come through the walls?

Question:I live in an apartment, and there is a unit in the same building that has bed bugs. They have sprayed that apartment, but will that kill them? Can bed bugs come through the walls? I have heard that they should spray the entire building at once, but my landlords have not done so. My concern is the bed bugs getting to my apartment through the walls. Please help!

ANSWER:Bed bugs can move along and through wall voids, use plumbing and electrical chaseways, etc. Although not every apartment has to be treated, those adjacent to the infested ones should be.

I would contact your apartment’s property managers and request first of all an inspection for your unit. If they do not have a reliable pest control provider, may I suggest they call us and set up an inspection for the complex.

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